It is past bedtime but the five of us are crowded around my laptop peering into the screen. My siblings and their families are in small rectangles on the display. It is chaotic. It is loud. We sing off key as my niece cuts her birthday cake. The whole meeting is less than thirty minutes. There is a sort of bittersweet-ness to the whole thing. It is lovely to see family albeit on screen.
I feel a pang of longing to reach out and touch, to feel, to hug, to hold, to crowd around jostling, to feel their breath on my elbows and shoulders, to breathe in their presence and soak in the familiarity.
We have been home bound for over three months now. The only forays I make into the outside world are my daily walks around the development. Even that feels limiting now. I long to be able to go to the store, walk around, touch things, check them out, sit at the coffee shop, loll around aimlessly without a care in the world.
I dream of vacations. I am not big on travel, yet I find myself imagining a long drive, the feel of sand under my feet and the ocean lapping contentedly as the sun sets.
The routine that I once loathed and craved at the same time seems a distant dream. I wonder if my children will go back to school, if I will get to see the lumbering, belching, yellow bus trundle into the neighborhood again.
The waves of longing are intense, each pang making me pause. It reminds me of everything I have taken for granted. The access to health care, ability to travel, to hop on a plane at the hint of trouble, physical distances that were still surmountable, the hugs, the touch, the meals at restaurants, the blessed peace for eight hours a day.
I miss my old life. I know it is gone forever. Whatever is in the future may look a lot like the past but I would have changed in ways that are unrecognizable.