Three weeks ago I was leaning hard into spring and laying in dates for summer activities. With five Luminous Balloon gigs, Cal's Footloose performance, a wear blue: run to remember race to support and countless school events I was already dreading the sequencing required to get the boys back and forth to practices and school. That's not to mention our exchange student Alex's full social schedule. As a senior he was planning to pick up his cap and gown yesterday and begin running the gauntlet of celebrations that make up the last couple of months of school. Then it all vanished. High school seniors unknowingly played their last games, our boys were picked up from school for (likely) the last time this year, and businesses entered the COVID-19 ice age.
Honestly, I've just started coming to grips with the enormity of the impact and challenges ahead. I've talked with my boys about everything; they seem to be doing fine.
Are you guys o.k.?
Yeah Dad,...just bored.
Are you scared at all? You shouldn't be, we need to take precautions to help protect older people and those with health problems so we don't overwhelm our hospitals. We're going to be o.k.
I'm not scared Dad, just bored.
I started to try and broach the subject of the economic impact with Michael a little bit this afternoon. We were going on a family hike and I thought it was important for him to know that things might be different for quite some time. I thought back to 9/11 and how I felt that day and the weeks after. COVID-19 was much more of a sneak attack. There's no boogeyman to blam; no group of radicalized religious zealots attacking an ideology incompatible with their faith. There's only the cold hard science of viral growth and infectious disease stalking the structures that knit society together. We're going to need many more discussions over the next few months, but how can I expect my children to grasp the enormity of what could be...I'm barely able to do that myself.
Yesterday the rain stopped here for the first time in days. We desperately need the rain. After a record dry February it's a welcome change that buys firefighters precious rest. But after the last few days of news, we desperately needed the sun. And with a break in the rain yesterday afternoon out came the people. I went on a run along the railroad trail that leads to downtown. It's about six miles round trip; longer than my usual jog, but just what I needed. Along the way I saw more people on the trail than ever. Moms pushing strollers, couples holding hands, elderly people on bikes, and even three boys playing in ankle deep mud puddles on the side of the trail. It was great to see people out soaking up the sun! Which made me want to see more of it. So I decided to grab my camera and head downtown today.
I knew my trip would be a mixed bag. I expected the closed businesses and responsible social distancing. But I also looked forward to some unexpected kindness and humanity; the kind that surfaces when things get really tough. I know we'll see more of it. But what I wasn't really expecting was the Ghost of Spring Future. As I walked past all of our favorite restaurants and venues I imagined all the things that weren't going to happen. The beauty and palpable excitement of spring coursing through people talking too loud and maybe drinking a little too much (it is a college town of course). Those ghosts of the future were fit neatly with a spring already at half-speed; flowers in bloom with trees beginning to leaf. I took a few photos, but I was more disciplined than normal. I did a lot of thinking. I thought about what I would tell my boys over the next few weeks and months. I thought a lot about the events that were scheduled that will not be. But I thought mostly about all the families behind the closed storefronts; their anxiety, their dreams, and their hopes for better days.
I'm an optimistic person. My faith makes that easier. But I am still human and my walk around town had an impact on me that was decidedly less science and more emotion. The longer I walked, the deeper I could feel it. We're going to move forward. Our country and world has faced tougher situations and prevailed with God's provision. We'll do so again. I will always have hope for the future. But for two hours today the ghosts danced in the streets. In my mind I met people for dinners that won't happen and heard the echos of my son's first paying gig that cancelled yesterday morning. Better days are ahead, but today was for the Ghosts of Spring Future. Be kind everyone...we need it now more than ever.