“You know, Bailey, sometimes I don’t think I’m beautiful. But when I take a breath and dance, I know I am.” — Evolette, 6 years old.
My son, Bailey, works at our Local Boys and Girls Club, which is a little like a mix of summer camp and day care. Bay has always been remarkable with kids, any kid really—unruly ones, shy ones, kids with physical or mental disabilities. He’s twenty-three and has a gift for making them feel safe, loved and appreciated, and when they are (when any of us are, really) they think out loud—their heart talks out loud unencumbered. They lose their vulnerability without even knowing they have. They tell their truths and fears to themselves, as if into an invisible mirror, not caring that someone else is in the room.
The other night, hunkered down during dinner because of the Coronavirus, our family tried to shake off the dread, so we went around the table talking about the best part of our day. This was when Bay shared with us what Evolette has probably not shared with anyone, perhaps not even her parents—I’m beautiful… I know I am.
What she said, in that vulnerable, little girl moment, was the best part of Bailey’s day. Of all the things that happened to him, that was the best part. Bay sort of glowed as he recalled Evolette’s words because, deep down, Evolette knew she was beautiful, and obviously Bay knew it too.
Even if he wasn’t my son, I’d want to give a guy like that a hug. Even if he wasn’t my son, I’d wish he was.
“Emotion is a luxury, and we don’t have the luxury right now of being emotional.” — Andrew Cuomo 2/26/20
Governor Cuomo is facing an extreme fight. He’s taxed with a challenge like no other right now, so from his vantage point, I agree with him completely.
From my vantage point, and I think from many others’, there’s never been a more emotional time. We’re presently in strange, uncharted territory. It’s quite easy, and understandable, to get derailed, anxious and scared by the spread and speed of the pandemic ripping through our world.
It’s unsettled me, too. It’s made me uncertain, ornery, sad, and even paranoid to a point.
Yet, it’s slowed things down in a new way. I can’t tell you what day or date it is, but I have a re-directed clarity.
I appreciate things more, all of those I’ve taken for granted without even realizing it.
I have eight best friends that I always work hard to keep in touch with. I’m doing that more than ever. I’m not afraid to tell them I love them, even if I’m a straight male saying I love you to another straight male. I’m not afraid to tell them I love them, even if I’m a married male and the other is female, because I know they hear my spirit of intent.
I used to be afraid of death. I’m not so much anymore. I appreciate all the experiences I’ve had, the joy, laughter, the people I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life—even all the mistakes I’ve made—I appreciate them because I was lucky enough to be alive when I made them, and lucky enough to learn from them afterward.
I appreciate waking up more now, even if my mouth is gummy and my back is sore. Even if I know there’s still an insidious pandemic going on.
I appreciate the beaver that shows up infrequently on the lake some mornings or nights, his tail long as a boat oar, dipping underwater just as I’m about to take his picture.
I appreciate the clouds and the way, at sunset, they morph from pink to mauve to the best shade of gray I’ve ever seen.
On the treadmill the other morning I was blasting my favorite band when this lyric played, and I thought, Yep, they’re right:
“The same way stepping into the night, is the time to praise the day.” — Dawes
I appreciate others’ foibles and gaffes. I better recognize now that they’re just as imperfect as me, that they’re individuals with their own thoughts and loves and fears. That, at some point, everyone does and says stupid shit they wished they hadn’t.
I appreciate each second and minute more, though I try not to count them.
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I sobbed watching a documentary about child abuse, and now I appreciate the notion that we could do that—cry unabashedly over something so horrible we have both been through.
I appreciate art even more, and especially the art my friends make. I’m anxious to express how much their creations mean to me. When I can track them down, I try to explain how their artistry has impacted me.
When you learn that people you love have the virus and are sick and terrified, it’s sobering in a way that’s hard to articulate. You want to be with them, hold them, listen and cry. You want to find the right words to help ease some of their fears. And though you can’t be there with them in person, you do that the best you can from a phone or Zooming on your computer. And then afterward, wherever you are in your closed-off sphere, you hopefully vow to love and appreciate better. You hopefully pledge to remember the lessons of this trying period—that life is a gift and love is the point.
In the after, plucked and featherless for once, we admire each other’s bald scars, the mundane folds of flesh, each speckled pupil and mourning dove. There’s time for everything, the slow sway of grass, a wave of wind, the quiet crush of a leaf. Let’s leave the dolphins in the canals, cellos playing on the balconies. Let’s promise to remember then, holding tighter this time, listening to every sound, tasting whatever flavor that happens, like a moth or butterfly, to land upon our tongue.