Before (prep.)- during the period of time preceding.

Heritage House Coffeeshop, medium latte with Pam.

Jim&Nick’s BBQ, dinner with Betsey.

Burch Formalwear, tux fitting for son’s senior prom.

Hair Cutters Inc., wash, cut, blowout.

Barnes&Noble, Books and coffee with Janet.

All things done the week before the first case of Covid-19 diagnosed in Alabama. Two weeks before the mandatory curfew. Three weeks before schools closed for the rest of the year, and before the first deaths in Alabama. Four weeks before the number of cases broke 1000, before Shelter-in-Place. Another life. Before.

Before life as we knew changed on a dime, for now and possibly for good. Before people went all Lord of the Flies in Dollar General and we discovered the lengths people would go to be sure they had toilet paper. Before it was normal to step way around others on the street, and to wear masks and gloves in the Grocery Store. Before Zoom. Before the best way to love your elderly relatives was to stay away. Before.

Did I enjoy myself that week, going about life, without realizing how much it was going to change? That everything I was doing would not even be on the table in a month? I did, but not the way I would have if I’d known there would never be another week like it. And though I think of myself as a person who lives in the day, I’ve been amazed to realize how much time and energy and planning I’ve put into things that aren’t even going to happen now.

I hear myself and others making reference to “when this will all be over”, but really, will it? Can we ever go back and be people that didn’t believe this could happen? Should we? When life gets back to normal, will it be that frantic merry-go-round of things that as it turns out don’t really matter that much? Do we want it to be?

Or will we have learned something in the quiet? Will we take up our lives recalibrated in ways large and small? Will it be a destroying fire or a refining one? Will we emerge scarred or better? Or both?

I think of my Depression era grandparents, how they never forgot what it was to be in want. They never wasted food and they never threw anything away, even aluminum foil and butter containers. But they worked hard, were easily satisfied, never failed to be grateful and never fooled with self-pity.

What will my version of that be? That I never again took up idle and worthless pursuits, that when I can hug my family again, that I will make sure I let them quit hugging first, that I never forget the goodness of people, the solace of nature and the joys of family, and simple pleasures? All of that I hope. And that I will never again touch a doorknob with my bare hand.

4 thoughts on “Before

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s