(No it’s not over yet but let’s pretend just for a minute…)
I wanted to write to let you know how much you meant to me during the pandemic of 2020–2021.
Remember the initial months? Vacations/reunions/trips/games/classes were cancelled, there were curfews. Schools and gyms closed, we all worked and cooked at home. Everything fun was cancelled. We could not be social, there was nowhere to go, no relief. We were wiping down groceries, hunkering down in panic and confusion.
After a few months we reinvented, stopped denying, got creative. We texted and called, tried online meetings, facetime family holidays, and socially distanced walks. We were stunned and on hold, waiting for it all to go away. At best, we were finding bits of relief here and there.
After nearly a year, we had become hardier, and heartier. We had adapted and we needed each other. We did not stop reaching out. Love, friendship and kindness found new ways. We built new friendships and patterns, we expected less and appreciated more, we accepted uncertainty, we stopped complaining and laughed when things went awry. We started new projects, we led simpler lives, we enjoyed simply sitting in the sun. We didn’t need to spend money, look good, or plan in advance. It was ok if plans got cancelled, if we had to scrap everything and start over. We were forgiving, messy and happy and silly and crazy.
There were so many sentimental, hilarious, life-changing, touching, peaceful, lovely, and precious moments. I got to know many of you more personally during the pandemic than I might have if we hadn’t found ways to endure it together.
Here are some of the most touching moments I remember from the pandemic:
- How we reached out to everyone and everybody on the holidays.
- We stopped apologizing for our messy houses and athletic wear in meetings.
- We got to know each others’ children and pets.
- The cards you sent in the mail.
- Letting go of pretending we were ok when we weren’t.
- When you told me how desperate you felt trying to work from home with kids at school at home.
- Savasana in the sun on the soccer field in the summer and fall.
- When you emailed me to tell me me you needed to read what I had just written.
- Dancing with you in the parking lot, on the turf, in the park by the water, under the bridge in the rain.
- That time Kermit the green parakeet joined us for yoga and we did all the bird poses.
- When I said “I need someone to talk to, can I call you?” and you called me right back.
- That time I blurted out to you how I felt lonely and afraid and you told me I wasn’t alone.
- The moment I watched you thrive in that zoom meeting.
- Your random texts letting me know you were thinking of me.
- When we laughed about how your dancing would go viral and you’d quit your day job and buy a mansion on a private island with all the money.
- The dedication and community of the VA Shorin Ryu karate dojo.
- The love and support from Freedom Group Exercise.
- All of the VETOGA teachers and trainees.
- The love, support and community at Power Nectar Yoga.
- Early morning yoga with the Army PT groups.
- When your husband and kids joined you to dance.
- When you said you needed to get out of the house and asked if I wanted to go for a walk.
- When I called to make sure you were doing ok after your surgery.
- The fig bars I dropped off at your house when you were quarantined.
- Camping in the backyard with you in the tent.
- The grief-absorbing Christmas tree you gave me.
- Watching the volleyball game live on screen from the hotel meeting room during brunch.
- Checking on you when you were quarantined and sick and unable to see your kids.
- That time we punched cancer and coronavirus in the face then did the Mambo on the dance floor.
- When you were in the hospital and said: “Get me out of here, I never want to be in a hospital ever again” and we made sure you never went back.
- The look in your eye when I hugged you and said “you are the best dad I could have ever had.”
- The tears that streamed down my cheeks when I learned your child had cancer.
- The hug you gave me when I cried after taking communion on the anniversary of his funeral.
- When you asked me to stroke your hair and rub your feet.
- When you came downstairs just to give me a hug.
- When you confided things to me you hadn’t ever told anyone else.
- When I learned your relative had succumbed to Coronavirus.
- All the times we didn’t need to be anywhere other than with each other.
We were so honest, funny, real, messy, imperfect, heartfelt and human. All of us became a little bit more transparent, more open. We needed each other and reached out in different ways than before. So many times we laughed even harder and loved even more than before the pandemic. Some of our bonds became stronger. We grieved and became resilient together.
I’ve made a promise to myself: when I tell the story of the pandemic to our children and grandchildren, I will make sure to include not only the feelings of fear and our loneliness but also the stories of love, laughter, relief, how we got closer and leaned on each other, how we kept reaching out, how we made sure others were taken care of, how we let others into our lives more and lean on each other more, how we expressed our feelings more openly and became a little more vulnerable, how we laughed harder at the hilarious things, and supported and loved each other more than we ever had before.
I felt deeply moved and grateful for you for the moments we shared during the pandemic. It was a special time to be alive and we will be forever changed.
Thank you for everything.