There are plenty of things I’d like to forget.
The signs on the wall in the maternity ward. “Have you traveled to China in the last three weeks? Please see a nurse.” As if this one question zeroes in on all possible risk, as if anyone in this local hospital can do a damn thing to protect us. My dad, your Pops, with a cough, standing outside our door to see the baby from a distance, just in case.
The mason jar on the counter, filled with popsicle sticks on which I have written 20+ ideas for me and Daddy to do with the baby while the big kids are at school during his paternity leave. The junk drawer is full of $5 gift cards to breweries, bakeries, and bistros we will never get to visit.
The panic on your parents’ faces after venturing out for groceries those first few weeks, more than half our list out of stock.
The FaceTime family that was all you knew for months. Nana via cell phone screen, coughing with Covid and languishing alone. Cousins we can barely remember, disjointed on laggy screens and infinitely distant from only 40 minutes away.
Pedi appointments for my failure to thrive baby, distanced and masked and fraught. Zoom calls with specialists who think they can see who she is, who I am, how we are, via iPad.
School. It wasn’t great to begin with, and then it was gone.
Friends, lessons, classes, play dates, everything. Gone.
I am still processing this. I can’t imagine how you are processing this.
I hope you remember we let you run wild. All day, every day in our yard, covered in mud or paint or both. Ice cream truck treats before dinners in the screen house. Unlimited screen time and daily deliveries of your favorite fast food. Playing into the night by the floodlight and glow sticks, long past bedtime.
I hope you remember we made the most of it. An all day Halloween extravaganza, so you wouldn’t mind missing trick or treating. A color war on your birthday. Thanksgiving in PJs with our quarantine pod. Christmas that lasted for a week. Movies projected on the shed into the wee hours.
Maybe your memories will be a mixed bag. The whirr of the nebulizer. The way the light hit our blanket as the sun went down over our favorite picnic hill. The damp cloth of your mask, the first time you wore one, at the Black Lives Matter rally in our town. The smell of hand sanitizer, cloying and cleaning at the same time. The char taste of hot dogs for the second meal in a single day, because it’s a pandemic, so why the hell not?
But I hope you will remember we made it work, together. I hope you will remember we came through it stronger, closer. I hope you will remember we kept each other safe, as a team. I hope you will remember that we tried to make it special, since it couldn’t be normal. I hope you will remember we did our best, even if we sometimes failed or fell short.
And above all, I hope you will remember how much we loved you, so big and so hard that a global pandemic was no match for us. Even when the world stopped turning, even when the living room was so messy we couldn’t see the floor, even when we ran out of patience and energy. We loved you – love you – beyond all imagination, and it kept us going.