The plan was for Ethan to finish out Kindergarten here, in Washington, with his friends. To spend our remaining PNW weekends visiting the places we always thought we’d have more time to see: Victoria, Vancouver, Coeur d’Alene, the Olympics. The plan was to gather with friends in May for a farewell weekend on Lopez Island. To have an early 6th birthday party for Ethan, gather together to say goodbye to the people that have made Washington our home for the last five years, and then head off to Ohio on a grand RV roadtrip.
The plan was to make this the roadtrip we couldn’t have on the way out from Ohio – to stop and adventure in National Forests, to take our time and wander a bit before arriving in Cincinnati. The plan was to stay in one of Mike’s parents’ two houses.
The plan was to watch our new home get built from the ground up. To visit the site and get to know our neighborhood and feel a part of it all. The plan was to spend the summer in Ohio, going to museums and parks and the theater, getting (re)acquainted with the city, introducing Ethan to family he hasn’t seen since he was a baby and showing him that this new place could feel like home. The plan was to celebrate Ethan’s actual 6th birthday surrounded by grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends.
And then came COVID.
E’s last week in school was at the end February; needless to say, he did not get to finish Kindergarten with his friends. Travel restrictions were put in place, and we never did get to take most of those trips, or go to the island for our farewell weekend with friends. Ethan didn’t get a 6th birthday surrounded by friends, or family. We weren’t able to spend the summer in Cincinnati, or watch our house go up and come together, because we no longer had a place to stay. And with this summer becoming the Summer of the American Roadtrip, we’ve had to adjust our plans multiple times to take into account the crowds, hot spots, and travel restrictions.
COVID took a wrecking ball to a lot of peoples’ hopes and plans for 2020. Pandemics do that. It’s easy to get lost in the disappointment, to wallow a little in the loss. But let’s not, okay?
At 169 days in, with no end in sight, I’ve recently come to recognize that I want to celebrate the milestones now even more than I have in the past. The joy that comes with marking a memory is something that holds more weight to me now – probably because we didn’t get to watch the builder break ground, or have an end-of-kinder party.
But how do we go about toasting the happy moments, the big transitions, the beginnings and ends, in a safe, responsible way – a way that will protect not only ourselves and our loved ones, but the people we’d never know if we infected? Those at-risk essential workers, two degrees separated from ourselves; those at-risk friends of friends? Brother’s keeper and all.
How can we do our best to ensure a safer space in the world for the sick, immunocompromised, and elderly while still living in joyful celebration?
I’ve got some ideas.