“You should write about this ,” I tell them. “You’ll want to tell this story someday.”
They nod politely but vaguely in my direction, barely lifting their eyes from their devices. I suppress the impulse to deliver a lecture about the relationship between screen time and deviant behaviour and head to the basement to clean up the remnants of yesterday’s mega-fort. I glance at the untouched craft corner I so carefully set up during Week Two, back when I was determined that we were all going to Make the Most of It.
In many ways, we have made the most of it.
We’ve settled clunkily into a Maslow-approved daily routine. We eat, we work, we learn, we play, we walk, we snooze, we fight, we laugh, and we pray. We wash our hands. Then we wash them again. Sometimes we even clean our rooms.
There have been unexpected sources of joy and much-needed normalcy. The light pouring into our pop up art studio in the kitchen, the campground set up in the backyard (complete with a clothes line and portable dish tub), and the slow and steady rediscovery of classic toys and board games long since orphaned by iPads and Galaxies. Virtual dinners with beloved friends. Sunday Bingo with extended family. Rediscovering Terry Pratchett. Watching The Girl nail a near perfect round-off and tik-tok in her impressively designed makeshift gymnastics studio. Trusted friendships that have made the leap through retina screens to deeper and more vulnerable places.
All of these moments are somehow calmly co-existing with a near constant layer of unspeakable grief. With simmering rage at who and what has been left ignored in this mess, and with workplace cultures that refuse to adapt to the contours of a new normal. With fitful sleeps and violent dreams that remind us that everything has changed. With leadership that harms and hurts. With an at times paralyzing fear about what lies ahead.
Yet these moments of joy keep showing up. They arrive as awkward but welcome hugs from a twelve year old when a morning newscast leaves us undone, sobbing quietly over our buttered toast. They burst through our tense jaws and clenched fists in “hey how’s it going” texts. They show up in emails from kind sisters who remind us that there are still gardens to be tended, books to be read, and movies to be watched. They pop up in our otherwise inane and depressing social media feeds to remind us that the communities and the people we love are patiently waiting for us. They speak loudly to us through music, through art, and through carefully crafted sermons that remind us of how much we are loved. Sometimes, they are sitting right next to us on the couch, laughing maniacally at a favourite episode of The Office while hogging the blanket AND the chip bowl.
They show up to remind us that while nothing is normal now, there is joy. And there is hope. And it’s perfectly ok, maybe even healthy and adaptive, to cling to these things while we navigate the endless waves of grief and sadness.
When these moments show up, we should pay attention. We should even write about them. Because someday we’ll want to tell that story too.