It’s a gorgeous, crisp, sunshine filled PNW morning - pretty much your prototypical fall morning. But the smoke from wildfires that have set the earth ablaze makes the air hazy and our eyes burn. It’s also too reminiscent of the piercing blue sky that served as backdrop for 9/11.
We’re walking our 5 year old to school, J and I - she’s skipping and swinging between our arms, happy for once to have all that attention on her. But instead of talking idly about her new class, we’re running down what might be different about her classroom this year.
We see parents and families we haven’t seen all summer, and we make idle chitchat about what we’ve been up to. But there are no hugs and our stories are all the same about the worry and the long weeks behind us and the uncertain weeks before us.
The kids walk up to greet their teacher when she calls to welcome them, their nerves and excitement evident in their brave march up the walkway. But all their little faces are covered in masks and the nerves are more than just first day jitters.
Everything is alright. Nothing is alright.
My babies are going back to school. But my heart was to explode with worry and my chest is tight with anxiety and the tears from everything that is overwhelming just threaten to spill over, for all to see.
I keep thinking we’re the lucky ones - that our kids actually get the chance to go back. That our teachers and schools are doing the bravest, kindest, most courageous thing by making themselves front-line workers in these times. We’ll have some semblance of our life back - for the mental, emotional, social health of all of us.
But at what cost? A little voice whispers. The uncertainty is astronomical. The fear is crippling.
Still, all I can think about is this poem I came across yesterday:
“Together we will create brave space
Because there is no such thing as a “safe space”
We exist in the real world
We all carry scars and we all have caused wounds.”
And so, I march on, we all march on, in this brave space where everything is alright and nothing is alright.
And I weep.