I spied my youngest through the window. There was a bounce in her step and a book in her hands. Her backpack jogged along as she hopped, skipped, and ran her way home from the bus. The excitement was catching as I opened the door and she thrust her yearbook in my hand while talking nineteen to a dozen.
I marched her off to the shower and sat to savor the yearbook. Organized by grade, class pictures, individual headshots, and pages devoted to candids, lunch, recess, and fun times, the thing that stood out were the masks.
Any picture that was not a standard portrait shot was one in which the kids and adults were all masked. Fun character masks, plain black masks, fancy masks, reinforced masks, these pictures capture the aberration that is the time through which we are living in.
Long after the kids were in bed, I looked through the elementary and middle school yearbooks and thought about the time in the future when my children look through these books with the generations after them and point out to this particular yearbook as the time they lived through a pandemic.
In the everyday, average lives we lead are history in the making. In our everyday lives, we are experiencing collective trauma. At the moment when I hesitate to sit too close to a neighbor, in the fear I swallow as I envelop a friend in a hug to mourn, in the place where summer stretches gloriously in front of me and I refuse to make plans to travel by plane or stay in strange places with my children is when it all hits me. This thing we are experiencing is abnormal. It has changed our lives irrevocably in measures small and big. The way we work, live, school, and socialize has forever been marked, tainted by a microscopic organism.
A decade from now, maybe the scars would have faded but remember, we will. The terabytes of data containing words, photos, and grief will come back to haunt us forever.