A few months ago, I put a short little saying on the letter board in our kids’ playroom. The sign read “Be present together ❤️”
Little did I know.
Before coronavirus, we had been living an incredibly busy season of life. Two careers. Four kids. Preschool, elementary school, drop-offs, pickups, occupational therapy, doctor visits, Little League, scheduling work trips and vacations and switching kids clothes out for bigger sizes. It was loud and fun and busy and demanding. It was all so much. Every single day. And as much as I tried to slow down, the franticness of our lives always sucked me back in.
Always trying to keep up with all that is demanded of me—and that I demand of myself.
Maybe your season of life has been similarly busy and distracting and a whirlwind of activity. Maybe, like me, you might have lost your way.
And now, in this terrifying moment, when many of us have been hunkering down for months of isolation, and others are going out to care for the sick or to simply keep their families fed, it’s a brutal awakening to recognize just how fragile this life is.
As the world as we knew it ground to a halt, life had a way of bringing everything into perspective.
And I can’t help but think that coronavirus has so many things to teach us—if we let it.
What really matters is not the fleeting work stress or laundry mountain or messy house. It’s not trying to lose the baby weight or make sure we sign up for the right summer camp. It’s not too much screen time or not enough music lessons. It’s not getting there on time or catching up on emails too late.
What matters now is that we are safe and present, together.
What matters now is the curl of my baby’s fingers around mine as he nurses himself to sleep.
What matters now is the laugh of my children as they chase one another around the house.
What matters now is the joy of getting beaten by my son at Battleship.
What matters now is the bedtime stories that I’m usually too tired to read to my daughter again and again and again. And again.
What matters now is marveling at the miracle of my babies as they sleep.
What matters now is the sun shining on our faces in the backyard even as a virus whips around the world.
What matters now is gratitude to have enough food, for now, to keep us fed.
What matters now is demanding a response from leaders at all levels to live up to the best of what our country can be.
What matters now is the yearning to make sure that every other child and family have that same peace.
What matters now is the hope that my parents, my kids’ grandparents, will live as long as fate can possibly allow to make more cherished memories together.
What matters now is the appreciation for the first responders—police, firefighters, doctors, nurses and heroes of all kids—who, every day of their lives, meet people in need on the worst day of theirs.
What matters now is thankfulness that we live in a world where delivery people work tirelessly to bring our essentials to our front door.
What matters now is a new goal to not put our marriage last on the long list of things we have to get done.
What matters now is the humility of knowing that I don’t have all the answers, and none of us knows the hour nor the place and that all we really have is this moment.
What matters now is a commitment to making this tragedy the beginning of something beautiful and real and new for all our lives—as people, as a family, as a country and a world.
What matters now is realizing that all I can really do is be present in this fragile moment, together.
And so, I will.
[This was originally published on March 13, 2020. It has been updated.]