It’s helpful, necessary, and smart. It’s good practice. Also, it’s terrifying.
There’s no more solace to be found in the garden these days. “Put them to work with you,” advise the well-intentioned folks who do not understand my reality of the transformation of a tiny farmer that uses a three-quarter-scale shovel to scoop compost into a wheelbarrow, only to turn (in the time it takes to pull two weeds) on a brother who had let his thoughts escape into words. I can only hope to reach the angry pair before the shovel strikes.
It’s the images of the masks which hide the faces; the hands, including mine, fitted with gloves; the grocery store carts topped with hand sanitizer and bleach as though a disinfectant sundae was on the dinner menu; the plastic shields intended to protect the brave cashiers who come to work so we can eat; and the heaviness of fear, both known and unknown, that’s terrifying beyond measure. Terrifying, too, is that we don’t really even know what we’ve lost.
Maybe I should have wiped down all the packages from today’s supply runs. I didn’t. Maybe I just needed another thought to wake me at two in the morning, when the boys are actually sleeping.
I had envisioned a brightly-colored piñata hanging from the tree in the sunshine, with my little line of children barely able to contain their excitement. It would be a treat for us all during this time of uncertainty. The box came from Amazon, but I told them it was a surprise for the next day. One boy became incensed; he didn’t like surprises, and he hated me. “Sorry! It’s a piñata,” I blurted. “I thought it would be fun.” At that, another brother announced that he, too, hated me, and pretty much everything, because I had ruined the surprise.
Next, there were cartoon-style clouds of body parts swirling through the air to the tune of an anguished choir. Maybe we should have called for help. That concept, too, is terrifying for so many reasons.
Come tomorrow, I will have to decide what to do about the piñata. It might feel good for all of us to take a turn at striking.
There’s so much loss going on all around us…so much on top of what’s already there, most of which may be hidden so deeply within that we cannot call it up. It must come on its own, in its own time.
It’s hard to know how to help my children through all of this, when my band of supporters must keep a social distance or communicate over a screen.
Maybe it’s like hitting a piñata, where finally all the beating and shaking becomes too much, and it just breaks apart. What it once was is lost. The masks and sanitizer will just help soften the blow.
I did manage to get some seeds in the ground earlier in the day. In about a month, my lettuce will be ready to harvest, and soon I will be able to transplant the seeds that we started inside. There will also be sugar snaps, beets, and carrots to follow. By mid summer, I hope that we will have stored our medical gloves and masks away. I hope for a lot of things. We all do.
We’ll try to record our piñata adventure, if it even happens. My guess is that everyone will be lined up and ready to take a swing. Even me. Especially me.