The past 7 weeks have been life-changing for all of us. I can feel it in the very thread of my soul. 50 days is a long time to be apart from the ones you love and society in general. Honestly, 6 feet apart can feel like miles when it’s the people you love who you want to be nearest to. Coronavirus has taken physical contact out of the equation for all of us.
My family is very close emotionally but more than that, we’re a very touchy, feely group. There are a lot of us and we were raised on good morning, and off to work/school, home from work/school, and good night kisses. No matter what kind of day you had or how many times we fought, in the end, there was always love. These hugs and kisses were guaranteed. Maybe we didn’t have money but in love, we were/are rich.
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This is not just a childhood thing, I’m a grown woman, mother to two and when I’m home or my parents visit, I kiss them good morning, good night and whenever I leave the house. My kids do the same with their grandparents. We all do the same at our house. My brothers and sisters do it at their homes and whenever we visit one another, there is a good 15 minutes of just welcoming hugs and kisses and we love every single moment of it all. It is as natural and necessary as breathing for us so it’s been really hard.
Add to that the fact that my dad had just returned from months in Mexico for Bella’s quince that never happened, the week before the shelter in place order went into effect. I got to see him and my mother the day before it went into place. I haven’t seen them since. My youngest sister just had a baby 3 weeks ago. I haven’t met the baby yet. My middle sister is planning a wedding, I haven’t gotten to help her at all. My 3 brothers live in town but for the better part of this shelter in place, I’ve felt like I was hiding in place. I haven’t been inside anywhere in weeks and the only people I’ve seen have been the random neighbor here and there that I try to avoid on my walks.
After a while, it starts to feel normal and that might be the worst part of all. 3 out of the 4 people in my house fall into the underlying condition category, so I’m in this for the long haul. I know this. I’m fine being in my house but lately, I’ve been missing my family in ways that I can’t explain.
I’m missing them in the little ways, my little brother’s Charlie Brown dance he does to make us laugh at family gatherings; the look on my little sister’s face when she watches her boys, the serious look of confusion and love that floods my middle sister’s face when we bullshit her about something, or my big little brother’s smirk when he’s bullshitting us or the care and concern in my middle brother’s voice when he asks if you’re alright and is genuinely concerned. I miss that same serious face my mom gives me before she breaks into my big little brother’s smile when she’s pulling my leg. I miss my dad’s laugh and the way he always blesses me before he leaves me or I leave him because we were raised that every time could be the last so always say I love you and that’s never been more true than now.
Most days, I push it all down and try not to feel it. But this week, this is my terrible, no good, very bad week of the year. Every year since 2012. Even when I forget the anniversary, my heart remembers and it’s soft and sensitive and exposed and it hurts. It’s the one week of the year when I always need a soft place to land and here I am twisting in the wind. Right now, this 6-feet-apart feels like miles and miles and miles. I feel so alone.
The other day, I needed to see family. I needed to hear their laughter, see their faces and feel their energy; the energy I was born of. The family who knows all of my secrets and shares my history and loves me still; loves me more than I probably deserve and always has me held in their hearts, lifting me up in prayer and covering me in blessings and unconditional love even when I feel unblessable and completely and utterly unlovable. Still, there they are always in all the ways. My family is truly everything to me.
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The other day, I made an executive decision as I am known to do and I told my brothers,” I’m driving by just to see your faces.” 6-feet-apart, so close but so far apart. And while it was balm to my soul to see their faces and hear their voices I never realized how much it would break my heart to have to walk away, to be in their orbit, and not get to hug them. It was almost unbearable and felt absolutely unnatural. It was the first time since they’ve each been born that I’ve seen them and not hugged and kissed them. I left feeling sad and hollow.
Mentally, I know that I saw them. We spoke and laughed and fed off of one another but the physical connection that transcends time and space that comes with touch was missing and there I sat, looking right at them, missing them and that’s a horrible side effect of the coronavirus. I can give up going to Target and restaurants and movie theaters. I can even give up travel and the freedom to roam the world as I so much like to do but giving up my people, the handful of people who mean everything to me, that’s hard but it’s selfish not to right now. So I take what I can get. Spaced laughter, togetherness apart, 6-feet apart dinners on my deck, movies in my family room with masks on with the same people who I share a mother and father.
I’ll keep dropping snacks off at my friend’s and family’s houses just to get a passing glimpse of their smiles and to feel connected. If that means that I have to drive 3 hours to get a glimpse of my parents from 6-feet-apart for a couple of hours, it’ll be worth it to see my mom’s smiling eyes above her mask and hear my dad bestow upon me a blessing before I get back in my car to drive the 3 hours home. Until then, it’s ok to feel sadness and grief to miss what might have been and what once was. At least, when this is all over and we’re all safe and healthy, we’ll all have each other’s hugs to look forward to. For now, we stay 6-feet-apart so we don’t end up 6-feet-under.