Updated: Jun 21, 2021
I take off my shoes. Barefoot. Standing against the earth. This land, this holy ground, that has seen much more history than I. Where my feet are meant to step. To stand. To exist. This moment. Grounding. Asking for answers. Begging for guidance.
I take a breath. A moment. From the messy, the ugly, the raw, the unknown, the uncertainty. From the wonder of what is becoming. Questioning why I feel so reluctant as I stand here. Why I feel so scared. Why I shiver as the wind grazes against me. Raising the hairs on my skin. The doubt from within. Standing here, bare foot. Exposed. Seeing both the beauty while I focus on the risk. On the potentials. On the what ifs. It blocks my visions, like a blanket. A cloak. A mask. Reminding me to be careful of what I speak. Of how close I let others near. If the distance is safe. The more I reveal myself. The closer we get to a return. To a resemblance of normalcy, I acknowledge the more distant a part of me wants to remain.
My son is in second grade. We live in Los Angeles county. In the middle, could be nearing the end, of a pandemic. If we play our cards right. If we can reach herd immunity before more variants come into play. If more get vaccinated. If some anti maskers have a change of heart. If this weird unknown inflammatory disease stops spreading in our county to some kids who have tested positive for Covid. Weeks after a diagnosis. 15 cases in December of what is called MIS-C (Multi inflammatory syndrome in children) up to 138 cases in February. With all children hospitalized. 40% in ICU. The risk factors still unknown as to why these kids developed this. All ranging from infancy to teens, even to some young adults.The average age being 8 years and 9 months. Around the age of my son. As the Covid cases surge once again in 30 states. The rush between the vaccine and the spread. Feeling the guidelines dissolve at the same rate as a desperation for it to be over.
As we begin to reopen in Los Angeles. A year of being in a pandemic. As the vaccinations seem to be running smoothly here. As the case numbers in California seem to be low. Vaccines soon any parent can get. While every child cannot. As we send them back to schools. Schools they have missed for the entire year. My son ultimately missing the entire 2nd grade. Losing sports, play dates, life as he knew it. As more and more families are traveling. Flying. To different states. Across country lines. While the surges continue. A race to see what will win. Another variant or an end?
The reopening being a day I used to look into the future as something to celebrate. Meaning this pandemic was over. But I have a lurking feeling it is not.
As cases in Michigan have skyrocketed since they have reopened their schools with the new 3 foot social distant rule in place. The leading infected now school aged children. As the lasting effects still are unknown. Personally knowing a child who has been inflicted by this long hauler. Tired. Withdrawn. No longer able to play without feeling drained. Out of breath. Listless. Foggy. His spirit depleted. A once spark in his eyes gone. The duration unknown.
Questioning why we are doing this now? With 8 weeks of school left of the school year after spring break. With masks covering them in classrooms in Los Angeles with no air conditioning for hours as the summer months approach. Recess, watched, monitored, reminding them not to touch. Don’t get too close to each other. Never let your guard down. No matter how much fun you are having. In other words, don’t get lost in the moment. Don’t play like no one is watching. Be aware we always are. Making sure they don’t forget. Not for a second. Keep masked. Cloaked. Covered.
Leading me to question can we rush to normalcy before the virus is done? It ultimately not our decision. Only the virus itself decides. Not us. No matter how hard we attempt to deny it. No matter how fatigued we feel. No matter how deep we are angry. As we know viruses don't come and go. They stay within us. Even when the contagion is not felt or the initial infection was "asymptomatic". Herpes causing cold sores, chicken pox causing shingles, HPV causing cancer. Results we only know because these viruses have been around for years. While the effects of a new "novel" virus is still unknown. Leading to the question, are we risking the health of our youth? I hope we aren't. But how would we know for sure if the kids aren't or never were tested? Only history will reveal that truth.
As I am unable to not see the parents who don't seem to consider the possibility that we could be infecting our young with something that will stay with them. Without these children having a say. Rushing to get back to "normal" in a once in a lifetime pandemic. As these parents state "They don't want to live in fear." While I wonder if they also don't want to address reality.
Hearing more and more parents stating they aren’t worried as long as they are vaccinated. While being consumed with the reality that my young son and they other students aren't protected. The lives, we are gambling with. The ones being sent back to school as “normal” when in reality, it isn’t. Because we aren’t living in a normal time. No matter how many people will it to be so. Parents wishing to send their kids back so they can feel like this is over. When it isn’t. As the children are forced to wear masks for over 6+ hours a day. While they are kept 3 feet from each other. Even at recess. 6 feet at lunch. Wondering what social emotional benefit this serves while still unable to play closely with their peers. A distant that is a must living in a populated city. Where the virus has taken hold and hit so hard. As the teachers are required to educate while remaining 6 feet away from them, stating the 3 feet rule is only adequate for the children. As parents and school boards continue holding meetings on zoom, yet our children and teachers sent in person in the same classroom, every day, for hours, without testing. Unable to predict or see a positive case in an asymptomatic child or staffer. Leaving me questioning how any of this makes sense? Scientifically. Educationally. Ethically. Humanely.
Knowing these children have all suffered over the year. They each have lost something. Yet the continual push, before its over. As we know each body the virus enters leaves a chance for another mutation. Another variant. Another shut down. If it continues, could possibly effect the efficacy of our vaccines after a year of waiting. After getting this far.
I'm reluctant. Scared. As I also see the light on the horizon. The rise of a new day within our grasp, or a fleeting moment that could slip through our fingers. Feeling the importance of being the one person in this world that can and will protect him. Who has vowed to never thrown him in harms way. While the world has proven it will. While it has shown it has.
With the end so close. With a mutating contagion lurking in the background. Invisible. Packed with unknowns and now variants. Taking a gamble with a life not my own. A child. Who deserves more. Feeling the weight of that risk. Of my decision. Permanently effecting him no matter which way I go.
As I hear and watch parents bully each other on their choices. On their worries. While we are all only doing what we feel is best for the children. While each child and each best is different. While others judge, deny, ridicule. Attacking each other for where they stand. For how they love. For how deeply they care. As we teach our children to be kind and considerate to others, while watching parents be anything but. All the while knowing my sons health is more valuable than any one of their loud opinions.
I take a breath. I shed my shoes. Expose my skin against the earth. Barefoot. Grounding. Feeling the soul of the Earth through the soles of my feet. Stepping onto this holy ground where I am supposed to stand. Where I am meant to exist in this very moment.
Sturdy, yet reluctant. Blessed, yet scared. Asking for answers. Begging for guidance. Hoping for unity. Seeing the beauty while focused on the risks. Pausing in the mess, the ugly, the raw, the unknown, the uncertainty. While wondering what is becoming?