“Can you bake me a chocolate cake?”
My littlest one asks, her round eyes wide with anticipation. I add ingredients to my virtual cart and cross my fingers and pray.
“How many days to my birthday?”
“Can I wear a dress for my birthday?”
“Can you get me an Elsa bike?”
“Can you get me a wand from the Dollar Store when this coronavirus is gone?”
The questions, the expectations, the anticipation surrounding her birthday is bittersweet. There is nothing more I would like than to celebrate this little spunky girl who has my heart and everything else.
I will bake that cake. She will wear an old dress. We will sing and serenade her. I will take pictures to remind ourselves that the spirit is intact even if the world outside is not.
My Twitter feed refreshes and I see that Governor Wolf has declared schools be closed this academic year. I feel a pang when I think of my fifth graders. Last year, this time we sat in their school auditorium watching the then fifth graders perform a finale. I choked back tears then thinking a year later, my twins would be up there bidding adieu to the place that has been a second home to them. The people, the pods, the teachers, the familiar hallways, the old building, all of it are special to my children and us.
They will end their fifth grade with a zoom call with their homerooms if lucky. They will miss the trappings that go with graduation, the resounding applause as they walk out of the building one last time. The fun-filled evening at the local ACAC as they celebrate becoming new middle schoolers. All of it is now a distant dream as are many other important things.
I am close to tears all day today. While I am upset that my children will miss performing in front of their school, it does not rip me up inside, perhaps because it is not something I grew up with and therefore have trouble relating to the event personally.
The things that cause me to cry today are news articles: personal accounts from ER doctors who talk about the dissonance they experience working inside the ER, watching the body count go up and then walk outside only to see flowers blooming and birds singing. I cry when I read about Chithra volunteering to help with physical therapy for the thousands of recuperating victims of the COVID19 in NYC.
I cry because I feel too much. The enormity of what we are experiencing hits me in waves. I hear about a 19-year-old desi boy who succumbed to COVID19 locally and I cry again. I hear about a 42-year-old who leaves behind her son and the tears start afresh.
I fear that these tears will dry up. I will become apathetic. I will narrowly focus on my family and tune everything else out.
So, I do what I do best, get my feelings out on a blank document and research eggless chocolate cake recipes so the little one can at least get one wish true.