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‘Do Not Open Until March 23rd’ | S.D. Henke

Everyone doing okay?

I’m only asking because if you’re anything like me, your head is spinning lately with all the news trickling in. We’re all hunkering down, trying to see straight around the daily updates and news we can’t simply avoid anymore. This COVID 19 scare has seeped into all our lives at this point. Our work, our activity, our social realms. It’s high time we call this ‘social distancing’ out by its real name. This is ‘Sucksville’!

By definition, according to our Google experts, it’s been defined as, “The perceived or desired degree of remoteness between a member of one social group and the members of another, as evidenced in the level of intimacy tolerated between them.” Lately, I’ve been quietly wrapping my thoughts around the ache I feel in the pit of my stomach with what’s unfolding in my own daily routines. Do I go work out? Do we pay a visit to the grandparents? Should I go to the grocery store or order pick up? I’m paying mind to the anxiety that hovers in a holding pattern over what I imagine is coming that is already here. There are new realities each and every day that coincide with unprecedented uncertainty about what we are being told is inevitable, and what will undoubtedly alter the fabric of each of our lives.

Honestly, what I perceive about this is not desired, nor are any of us okay. But what’s true, that we don’t have a choice about, is that it must be tolerated. At this point, I’m thinking about how I will continue to do my job remotely. How I can maintain the authentic relationships I have with my students who are devastated that we’ll be separated and that they’ll only have virtual access to their learning and friends. Then there are those few with no resources to connect who will be even more isolated. How will this interaction look, feel, and settle in our hearts? What will school look like from the other side of a computer screen? Who am I leaving out? What I know is that it will truly transform the way we all operate, but I know it’s necessary. Its time to accept what needs to happen, although the unkind reality pains us all.

What I really want more than stability right now is to protect the children I work with, our friends, and families. This isn’t a time to be selfish or petty. Those who are vulnerable need us all to sacrifice. So, starting tomorrow, what would have been the start to an early Spring’s tease into summer break’s bliss, my students, and I open an unknown envelope of space and time to find our resilience that is uniquely human. I’m going to breathe into the ‘break’ as we take a recess from the busy lives we used to know and on March 23rd or whenever it happens to be, I open this new space.

‘Do not open until March…? April…?’ What is key is that we reach out in new ways, find new avenues to be together. We have the technology, we have the skills, and we are better when we stick together. I know I’ll miss out on morning hugs from my students, high fives that have evolved into elbow bumps, and air pecks from my son (who now cringes when I lean in for my goodnight kiss). But I will breathe into it, hold it, and exhale. I will continue to love, live, and remember that this phase of going dark doesn’t mean we forget the light that’s still there. Ask the moon, it knows this. Watch it go dark and return again. Maybe it has something to teach us.

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