I think – I know – this will be the first Easter I will spend without my youngest who is 26. She lives and works in Chattanooga and will shelter in place this holiday to be safe.
And, yes, along with religious bows, this Easter holiday, of course, I made quasi-fun baskets for her and her sister who is three years older. It was a thing. No longer. Did I realize that was a selfish luxury?
Never would I have thought I would wonder if food was available, if water was safe and see reports of thousands of people dying as if that was normal.
Never would I have thought that with my mom, 83, not far down the road, I could not visit for fear of her health safety. The phrase, “so close, but so far,” is never more poignant when not hugging and visiting is far superior than actually visiting and eventually dropping off needed items in the driveway. Never did I think this in all my many years.
Never would I have thought when my daughter finally gets engaged and sets a date for this September that perhaps it won’t happen. Fingers crossed. Vows of love and faithfulness put in suspension? Plans on pause and the dream of a life together all screwed up? I never dreamed my dream of becoming a grandmother to her potential children could be in jeopardy.
Never would I have thought that scraping for a front-page headline would take third base to at least having a go-ahead to writing a story. And never, would I have thought my beautiful sister after a decade of her own business, Beach Wishes, would quietly say, “Laurie, I closed down my pages two days ago.” She built her business on words on the beach that evoked positivity so diligently, and now that light is shuttered in such a time of need – and in the midst of dealing with her husband’s health issues.
Never would I have thought I would go to my local grocer and see an employee armed with gloves, mask and a bucket of bleach to wipe down my cart for germs because their usual dispenser of wipes was long gone. And, after years as friends with an employee there who is hearing impaired, seeing him and staring like a deer in headlights because I could not do our usual hug. We bumped elbows in a weird way. And never ever did I think I would see empty shelves and worry about our needy.
Never would I have thought in all my worries, woes, peaks and valleys of this life think the totally amazing, powerful and innovative friends who went out on that limb and started a business would take to social to say they are temporarily closing. Their hard work, victories, tears and stretch to succeed are suspended as of this week. Never would I think this could happen to them, who I admire to the ninth degree. Their positivity is what is shining in this dark tunnel, and we shall all be the light at the end of this stupid journey for them.
Never would I have thought for a second about a sniffle and short breath as I am a lifetime asthmatic. These are par for the course in my world, but our mind plays tricks these days.
Never would I have thought my wonderful community that I love is in jeopardy like never before, and we are hamstringed for the sake of the whole. We shall lift up everyone when able.
Never would I have thought as a 30-year reporter, I would have images of tornado damage to my sweet Mt. Juliet seared in my brain and not even a few days to process before we confront an unseen enemy. Never would I have imagined I would stand on so many slabs of destroyed homes to interview victims of a terrible twister that wreaked havoc only to know they are double gut-punched with this new challenge.
Never would I have thought my husband, forced to retire due to an eye tragedy, would wonder why any life’s savings are gone because economic crises. But, we are in the same boat as nearly everyone now.
This new normal doesn’t sit well. It’s messed up. Never would I have thought families would lose young and old ones to something they could not help.
Never, as a news junkie in the field, would I cringe, cry, shut off and run from the news, broadcasting things I can’t fathom. Could we ever think of even social distancing our local news on our tube?
Never would I think to say out loud, “Is this for real?” I thought my mortgage payment, decrepit car, usual angst and worry of my loved ones and gray hairs were torched items in my life. Now, I look at those I love with wonder and worry, so filled with love.
Never would I have thought these bright daffodils, sunshine forsythia, a cardinal building its nest, a scarlet sunset we see today – through the smothering gray these days would give me such simple joy. A voice over the phone, a letter in the mail, a look, an email, a Facebook post are what we have today. We are needy of touch and smiles and just jabbering. It’s on hold for just now.
And, as I’ve been on my knees praying many times in crises, today’s prayers are more than ever fervent. This united journey is painful and scary. But, it’s been a horrendous wakeup call to what really is important to all of us. It’s a shake-us-up perspective reality call. We all had it good, even when it was bad, and when these ashes fly away, we will be more grateful and appreciative of just our breath, family and friends.
Laurie Everett is a correspondent for Main Street Nashville-East.