Dear June, It is April 6, 2020 and we are in our fourth week of isolation and sheltering in place.
It wasn’t until a few evenings ago that I realized it’s been over 25 days since I have seen the sunset. Usually around 6 o’clock we start dinnertime, followed by a bath and then I’m in the room with you reading, singing and nursing you to sleep with a bottle. You fell asleep quickly with no tears which has been a continuing theme this month. When I walked downstairs, I caught the sun peaking through the front windows. Your dad was waiting in the living room, but something pulled me to go outside.
I walked out on to our front porch and there was a stillness in the air that I had never felt before. The air was incredibly calm, balmy and the temperature was perfect to where you only needed a light long sleeve t-shirt and jeans to keep you comfortable. A noise crept above me, breaking the silence, and as I looked up I spotted a tiny airplane leaving a trail behind and I wondered where that airplane was flying off to and who was on it. There couldn’t be more than a small handful of passengers, surely. The government has placed very strong recommendations against traveling because of the high risk to exposure. Suddenly, the world felt incredibly small. We are collectively going through a global pandemic but in that very moment, as I looked up at the sky, I realized that everyone in the world is being united by this experience.
A person passes by on the sidewalk and waves. I wave back curious what they are doing outside at this hour. She is wearing blue latex gloves and a cloth mask, which gives me a little reassurance. You don’t see many people walking out and about lately. The government has advised that if you absolutely must go outside that you should wear a mask to help reduce exposure to the virus. There are lines around the blocks of every grocery store. Empty shelves where key essentials like toilet paper, bottled water and pasta line the aisles of defeated shoppers and some people get into fights over products or prices with store clerks. Diapers, eggs, cleaning supplies and other produce such as meat tend to sell out quickly and it feels like hitting the lottery when you are able to get your hands on these items. Your dad and I have resorted to ordering things online from other states who aren’t considered “hot spots” and have more supplies to offer. The deliveries usually take a week or two, and we are also at risk opening up cardboard box shipments, but we open them outside and consider ourselves very lucky to have this option. The other night, we grilled up steaks that we ordered from Utah and it felt like a Thanksgiving feast! We lit the fireplace, opened up a nice bottle of red wine and counted our many blessings.
I stood up to leave our front porch and the woman disappeared in the distance. A familiar knot formed in my throat and I tried my best to push away sad thoughts that were fighting to enter my mind. So many people have died, so many people are sick and so many people have loved ones who are putting their lives at risk. We have several friends who have caught the virus, and we are stressed about our family members who are not following the rules, putting their lives at risk. Most of all, we are terrified of you getting sick. Every day we make calculated choices as to how we handle products, wash our hands and do everything in our power to keep the virus out of our home. We go to bed each night with a rising sense of panic and anxiety over how badly things have gotten. We live in fear over how much worse they may get.
At around 3am every night, I jolt from sleep thinking that someone is breaking into our home. I check all of the cameras and stir for an hour. Sometimes I look at real estate in Texas, or other more remote places where we could escape to. But I am always left with the deflating realization that there is no escape from this new reality. You cannot outrun the coronavirus. And some nights, when I am lucky, a few moments after I jolt from my sleep, you will begin to stir too. It’s like we are still somehow cosmically connected and you know that I need you to need me.
I go into your room with a pre-made bottle and happily settle into the rocking chair, holding you. There is no light but the hallway light creeping below the door and I rock and sing to you “twinkle twinkle little star… up above the world so high …” This is the best moment of my day. Up until a month ago, I was very guilty of living a life full of greed and an unsettling urge to go-go-go. What is next? What is the next trip? When is the next project? Where is the next restaurant we want to try? For the longest time I have prayed, begged and wished for a time to come in my life where I would feel settled – truly settled.
There is no feeling that is more unsettling that the world that we currently find ourselves living in, but somehow I have found peace in my moments with you. We build up blocks and knock them down together and scream at the top of our lungs with joy. We snuggle up in bed and watch a few cartoons on a gloomy day. We run around the backyard, playing with your new water sprinkler toy. You crouch down and stick your tongue out, trying to get some water in your mouth and look at me with the cutest face, knowing you aren’t supposed to be doing it. We crawl into your new chair and look out the window at the squirrels, you glance over to me to make sure I see them too. We dance to “Be Our Guest” in the kitchen while I make your dinner and you lay your head on the high chair grinning, making fun of me. We wait until the day comes that I can take you places. We wait until the day comes that I can show you the world as I once knew it. We wait…we wait…we wait…
There is a purpose in waiting.
One day I will tell you about this season of time when you were just a 14-month old baby, yet you taught your mom the biggest lessons of her life. One day I will share stories with you about our heroes, the heroes who are fighting every day, risking their lives, to protect us all. One day I will look back on these moments as the moments that I might have missed otherwise, and be truly thankful for this time we have together.
Until then, my sweet June bug, we have each other and we have our health and our home and that truly is the greatest gift I could ever ask for.
I love you always,
These photos were taken at a social distance by Morgan Pansing and Andrea Hawken for their series “Quarantine Americana” – a series of images depicting quarantine life in Los Angeles in the time of COVID-19.