One of my favorite things for 4 year olds is the "basement play date." That last year of preschool before kindergarten opens up a child's world to the wonders of playing with someone else's stuff in the treasure trove of a basement or a playroom. Sometimes it even means going home from preschool in a friend's car, having a snack in an unfamiliar kitchen, and playing until mom picks you up hours later. Almost a whole day away! It's exciting, scary, fun, and an opportunity for growth.
The pandemic began shortly before Andrew turned 4. Now he's almost 5. So we were on the cusp of this magical stage right before everything changed. We canceled his birthday party at an indoor play place. (Sometimes I think this whole mess is my fault because as a germaphobe I threw caution to the wind to plan that kind of party in the first place!) Preschool shut down, and I became his primary playmate.
If you ask Andrew today what his heart desires, it is to play inside a friend's house, and to have a friend come inside ours. Sitting inside McDonalds again is also pretty high on the list. In 10 months he has gone inside a Dollar Tree once, but no other stores or restaurants.
I was thinking about all of the things he's missing and that I'm missing for him: church, sporting events, hugging his grandparents, and play dates are just a few. He has been resilient and adaptable, and I am so proud of him. I know for sure that I won't have to "play Legos" forever which, unfortunately, doesn't mean "build Legos"-- there are battles and backstories and I never seem to know what is going on, just that the clock seems to slow to less than a crawl when it's happening.
Many, many people have lost so much more than my little guy. Jobs, physical and mental health, homes, food security, and a year of education slipping away and leaving those with "less than," with even less.
And most especially, the death of family members.
The death toll of covid is so VAST it is natural to start tune out, to not see each loss, each life as unique and precious. What seemed inconceivable in early March, is a daily reality that keeps getting worse, at least for now.
It's normal to see what's in our own home, our own families, and our own circumstances. I think it's valid and healthy to acknowledge and let my heart ache a little for some of the small losses of opportunity my little guy has had, and be genuinely sad that my big girl's college experience looks nothing like we'd all hoped.
But when Andrew is finally playing in a friend's basement, and I am out of the lonely fog of my current circumstances and on to my "next thing," I want to remember them. Your grandma. Your sister. Your uncle. Your spouse. Your friend.
This community has stood by me and honored Jack's death as significant for many years. Even as time has passed and the smaller issues of life have crept back in, you have said, "I'm here. Jack matters."
I know I'm on Facebook and Instagram constantly and have been very quiet on the blog.
But I'm here. Your person matters.