before the world changed . . .

Before my youngest son’s spring break was extended a second week, his university classes moved online soon thereafter and he moved back into his bedroom, changing our status from empty-nesters to, well . . . not,

Before schools closed their doors, cancelling all of the extracurricular activities that make school worth living and teachers immediately given training to conduct online education giving “coming to class” an entirely different meaning,

Before we had ever heard of Zoom and previously only associated it with toddlers playing with cars, trucks and tiny airplanes,

Before live streaming a Sunday service became the new way to worship God from the comfort of a living room chair with a cup of coffee, including do-it-yourself communion, remotely encouraging the gathering of all to love and good works,

Before I suddenly found myself with the first real time off in about four years and was extremely pleased to actively engage in a whole lot of nothing for as long as I could get away with it,

Before I wondered if I would get paid and then never felt so grateful to work as a preschool teacher for a small, private school even though I’m also a writer and an artist, and am currently not getting paid for either one of these other endeavors,

Before toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, paper towels, and tissues would disappear from the shelves, along with large bags of rice, chicken, and sometimes even bread, and we would all wonder why,

Before a stay-at-home order was put into place and we were all encouraged to make the best of it in our homes, though we knew being outside was better for our health so we walked around the block and saw neighbors we hadn’t seen since I was a soccer mom,

Before I started sleeping in, having a leisurely cup of coffee, walking my dog daily three miles, doing yoga for thirty minutes, drinking more coffee, watching movies, reading, sewing, and having dinner made before happy hour begins,

Before COVID-19 became a disease everyone knew about–everyone in the world,

Before my doctor who treats my thyroid disease with natural hormones not prescribed by doctors practicing traditional medicine (even though it has restored my health) sent me the link he recommended of a couple of doctors in Bakersfield, California,

Before YouTube censored the video because it was deemed dangerous for society even though these men went to medical school like the rest of the doctors and may even know something about disease and medicine, and other doctor-related stuff,

Before it became impossible to know which media source to believe and it didn’t really matter because it was too traumatic to watch any news but even if one did subject oneself to the news, the constantly changing nature of it makes one feel kind of crazy,

Before our street was lined with cars one afternoon as teachers and friends of a high school graduate performed a socially distanced graduation ceremony across the street for the benefit of his mother who would die the next week of cancer,

Before wearing a face mask demonstrated how one may align politically,

Before wearing a face mask became mandatory in many public places except Walmart where all bets are off about pretty much everything,

Before no one wanted to hear how a face mask really can fog up one’s glasses, cause shortness of breath and sweating to occur the entire time,

Before questioning the effectiveness of a face mask was no longer tolerated,

Before the hope of a vaccine allowed for a pause in the global conversation,

Before it was pointed out that it may take years, if ever, to produce a vaccine,

Before realizing that some of the postponed events may not ever be a part of our future, like attending the performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the new performing arts center as my husband’s ALS continues to progressively take his life away,

Before Zoom fatigue became a thing, experienced by introverts and extroverts alike,

Before one was voted off the island–the tribe has spoken–or unfriended by those who have decided only certain opinions are the correct ones, but we are not sure which ones those are,

Before I became aware that some posting on Facebook have been accused of “bearing false witness” while others are not and wondering if it is possible to know the difference,

Before I wondered if those who did not stand up for me when others bore false witness against me will now choose to stand up for those who also deserve justice because it is the right thing to do at work, in church, and everywhere we live and breathe,

Before I was asked by a friend why I had not written anything in awhile–Didn’t I have anything to say?–and realized having too much time on my hands has resulted in less being accomplished even though I really did not have any idea of what to say until now,

Before another incident of police brutality found its way onto “front page news” and we all gasped in collective horror as George Floyd lost his life, adding to an already unacceptably long list of others whose voices were silenced without cause,

Before we were reminded again of the marches we’ve marched, the petitions we’ve signed, the songs we’ve sung, the stances we’ve taken to honor our black brothers and sisters, valuing life as we are all children of God, hoping to one day overcome injustice,

Before peaceful protestors dispersed and then vandals and looters took over our cities,

Before windows were shattered along with the dreams of business owners who were finally going to be allowed to open their buildings after quarantine,

Before plywood would cover over a multitude of sins that artists would embellish, making the ugliness a little less painful,

South Elm Street, Greensboro, North Carolina

Before driving through my favorite part of Greensboro would bring me to tears,

Before I wondered if my youngest son will get to enjoy his college years away from home and compete again as a college athlete, if my middle son will be able to pursue his graduate program and eventually his career as a professional musician at a time when resuming playing his trumpet publicly has yet to be figured out, and how my oldest son will change the world once he has completed his graduate program–my two older sons planning to live in New York City to pursue their goals and live out their dreams,

Before I spent the better part of last week and will joyfully continue this week bingeing on The Great British Baking Show in all of its buttery, spongy, hilariously brilliant, God-save-the-queen glory,

Before the world changed, I went on a vacation to Florida to have a family reunion with my parents and sisters, to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday . . .

My 80-year-old mother with her fruit tart and birthday carrot cake.
My family social distancing before we even knew what that was.
Me on vacation.

and it was lovely.

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