We went there. We asked perhaps the most painful question. What do you miss? After weeks confined at home, with perhaps weeks or months still ahead of us, what are you missing from your life?
We heard some answers, and then we heard the truth.
We miss the life we had before
We are sad about the milestone events that will never be. We feel sorry for teens who have practiced hard for a school play, have prepared all year for the softball season, who were looking forward to celebrating a graduation or had lost a summer job already.
We miss routines, going to our jobs, our workouts, or churches and temples. We miss the rhythm of daily life that we took for granted, sometimes barely noticed, because it seemed so unremarkable.
We miss watching our kids play their sports, dance or play music. We would love to be back in the audience of their lives. We miss them telling us about their days, recalling all the tiny details that only a mom cares so much about. We miss witnessing them enjoying this season of their youth.
We miss restaurants and hair color and lingering long enough to read the back of packages in the grocery store. And we miss the random errands that we once thought were a nuisance but now would give anything to be able to do. We miss going outside and not having to worry.
We miss sleeping at night. Oh boy, do we miss our sleep.
But nothing, not one thing, compares with how much we miss each other. We miss human connectedness more than anything else.
We miss our kids who are away, either grown or still in college apartments. We miss their hugs and their presence so much, the anguish almost feels physical.
We miss parents who we are afraid to see lest we unwittingly share this illness. And we are pained by their absence, even though we know we are doing the right thing by distancing.
We miss our friends who are there on FaceTime, but not there for a jog or a coffee. Oh how we miss our girlfriends. We miss casual conversations with colleagues, who are now no more than squares on a checkerboard of Zoom.
Coaches miss their teams, teachers miss their students, band directors miss their choirs and dance instructors miss their troupes.
We miss our spouses who are in the critical workforce as they help our nation endure and triumph, even as we know why it is important that they are away such long hours.
As days have run to weeks, we quickly realized how much we missed our very ordinary lives and the wonderful people in them. But now, every minute of every day is a reminder of the fact that our life is the people we love, and nothing matters more than that.
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Parents, Now Is the Perfect Time to Extend Grace to Your Returning Students