Reflections on life in a pandemic-changed world
I met my husband almost four years ago. I think we both knew fairly soon after that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. But we both had high school juniors at the time, and knew we couldn’t pull either one away from his school. And so, we waited.
The kids graduated and went off to state schools and we set our wedding date.
We settled into our lives. My husband traveled frequently for work. I went into the office one day a week, working the rest of time from home and I also went back to school, with classes two nights a week. We found time here and there to attend plays, concerts, Shabbat services or to meet up with friends or our other college-age and older children.
The kids started their sophomore year. Life was wonderful.
And then COVID-19 hit. Life changed. Kids came home. Travel stopped.
Leadership faltered and numbers rose. Continues to falter and continues to rise. Added to societal issues that cry for resolution, the world has gotten a lot darker.
But in our house, we are at peace. Our sons are responsible young men, taking summer classes online and not going out. They are wonderful mealtime companions, sometimes trying their hand in the kitchen too. We have enjoyed their homemade treats, from blueberry pie and tiramisu to bagels.
Many families, though, are struggling. If they are fortunate to still have their jobs, parents also have to juggle working while overseeing younger children’s education and summer free time. If they need to leave their home to work, they may require childcare and then are burdened with the additional worries surrounding possible exposure to COVID-19 as well. And if they are in troubled relationships or if they are single parents, issues are surely compounded.
Financial, parenting and familial pressures on top of a global pandemic – how can that not be overwhelming?
I almost feel a bit guilty. How is it that we are so fortunate when others are struggling? There is no answer because there is no pie to be split up.
This is the same truth when it comes to some of the bigger societal questions we are wrestling with these days too. That is, advocating for what needs to be improved ought not be done at others’ expense. I think about this a bit. How should we articulate what we need in society and how do we focus solely on what it takes to get there.
Equity is not a pie.
I think about how social media allows people a platform for trying to achieve good – and for hurling hate. And so many do the latter.
But dismantling racist policies, combating antisemitism, addressing mass unemployment and scarcity of affordable health care – each of these requires a degree of thoughtfulness that is absent in a world where judgment on social media is instant and viral and where so-called leaders argue that wearing masks tramples on personal liberties instead of investing time on trying to help people stay safe.
As I sit safely in our house, I am overwhelmed too. Thankfully, not by what is happening inside of our house. But by what is happening outside. I will be honest. I am afraid. What kind of world will it be after we emerge from the shadow that COVID-19 casts?