Thought the looking glass

After the first week of quarantine there’s an interesting emotional dichotomy at play.  But this is about more than Covid 19 and quarantine so let me back time up a few weeks, to a morning I woke-up, completely disoriented, crying my eyes out.  

The kids were only a few year old.  Ester was maybe 5 which put Elliot at 7 and Ella at 3.  We were baking in the kitchen, cookies I think because I had on this apron that my mother made–a real 50s number with bold patterns, a susie-homemaker-shape and lace on the straps.  The whole kitchen counter was covered in flour and I had smears of butter and crusty dried sugar all over the tops of my hands, face and apron.  We had just slid the baking tray into the oven, or 5-year-old Ester had just slid the baking tray into the oven when she turned to me and said, 

“Pick me up!” 

Which of course I did and hugged her tight for maybe a second too long–taking a moment to smell her.  Any parent will tell you that they love to smell their children.  They don’t always smell great but there’s something about their smell that binds them to you.  A familiarity and a ritual from when they were just little babies.  Anyway I took a deep whiff of her batter streaked hair and then pulled back to put my nose against hers while I held her in my arms, staring into those deep green eyes. 

And that’s when I woke up and the tears came instantly–so much so that I couldn’t catch my breath.  No-one tells you when the last time will be that your child wants you to pick them up and hold them.  You never know.  One day just realize that you haven’t done it in a while and that while becomes and even longer while until you realize that it will never happen again because they’re 15 and they don’t want you to anymore.  So I cried my eyes out in bed–literally sobbing and choking because time is slipping away and I can’t catch it, can’t stop it, can’t even slow it down.  I am helpless and and I am scared and I am sad.  I look over to AM for some emotional support but she’s out cold.  I could kick her in shin and she would just roll over and mumble something about me stealing the covers.  

As quickly as the sobbing washed over me, it recedes and the shallow breathing subsides.  I get out of bed, put on my Birkenstocks, the black hooded jacket I always wear and head to the kitchen to make coffee.  I open the squeaky kitchen door carefully not wanting to wake anyone and immediately glance over at the oven triggering a second wave of intense sobbing.  I force the crying down down down into my core before wiping the snot dripping from my nose (and onto the floor I would later find) on the sleeve of my poor jacket, further solidifying it as my security blanket of choice.  Yes, I am a forty-something-year-old-man.  

Time has passed too quickly.  They kids are so much older now and while AM and I will always have Elliot, the same can’t be said for Ester and Ella.   Ella’s already trying to figure out way to ditch us so she can hang with her friends and in two years from now Ester will be heading off to college.  The rest of us will be trying to understand how we can continue to live a normal life after one of us is no longer with us every day.  The though tears me apart.  The unfairness of childhood going so fast.  The unjustness of having so few years with your children while they are actually still children.    

So when I got the news that we were being ordered to shelter-in-place, a feeling grew inside of me that can only be described as pure bliss.  The idea that we would all be together through this crisis–regardless of how dangerous and how lethal this virus is–made me happy.  Despite how incredibly difficult it is for five people to be confined to 1400 square feet for weeks on end, I knew that we would be together and for that I feel truly blessed.  Blessed because I’ve been given a chance to be present and available for all the hugs and kisses and fights and moans and groans that my family can collectively throw at each other during this quarantine.

Blessed to not be alone, passing through the looking glass of time, leaving behind a world that will only ever exist in my dreams.   

Shot on a LeicaM7, Kodak Tri-X pushed +2 at the Icon.


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