(Something I wrote for an online publication back in March 2020)
And on our couches, our beds, rocking our children to sleep, we sat and we watched the president’s speech. We heard about the climbing numbers; the risks; his fears…and we were told about lockdown. Lock. Down. Those words we all knew were coming but made us gasp all the same. We tried to comprehend what our brave president was trying to put into words. And we cried as we were told our homes were now our entire worlds; for 3/4 of a month we wouldn’t see a sunset from any other angle. No braais with friends or noisy kids parties or dinners on weekends or take away coffees. No clothing fashion shows in bad change room lights or toy browsing or salivating over expensive books in the bookstore. We were told ‘stay home’. But we were also told that he has hope.
And we poured our wine or grabbed the ice cream and sat on the couch or bed or rocking chair and contemplated the world we now live in. Our grandparents went to war; and we’re fighting a war with something we can’t see; that may have a low death rate but may take from us the grandparents who fought those wars. So we close our doors to protect the weaker, the sicker, the older. We dig deep for hope.
And we stand in the grocery store with pages of a 3 week meal plan and grocery list; unfulfilled by empty shelves. And we reach for the tinned fruit, something we would never feed our kids, usually. And we take the frozen veg, something we would never feed our kids, usually. We smile at strangers from 3m away, and glare at those who clear their throats or use the last pump of hand sanitiser. We load up what we managed to find; handing our car guards much more money than usual (oh how they need it!) We tell them we’ll see them in 3 weeks. We give them hope. And we chat to our friends into the dead of the night. Also home with lonely children; missing the park, their friends, making pizza at the local pizzeria. We share ideas to keep them busy. We recommend movies and TV shows and remind one another that screen time is out the door; and all we need to do now is keep them safe and healthy; not teach 6 year olds trigonometry. We tell them we’ll have coffee and giant slices of cake soon. We share our whispers of hope. And then we hold our children. In years to come, they will learn about this pandemic; the choices our country made to try protect us; the season we’re living in now. And when they do, I hope they’re confused. I hope they look at us and question us – ‘You were scared?’ ‘You didn’t know what was going to happen?’ ‘You cried?’ I hope we can bring them such peace, such comfort, such safety that only in hindsight they will realise what they were a part of; and how I pray they’ll be able to ‘look back’ as it’ll be completely over. And while we’re home, we will dance in the sunshine and play games and do puzzles with missing pieces and sing loudly while we cook with things we find in the cupboard.
We will have no fear; and so much hope.