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Reaching Out

Amy Leibowitz COVID-19 life

Perhaps today’s topic isn’t strictly writing-related, but one day, someone may write a story set during this time. As with any significant event in history, the narrative should at least deal with the realities of the situation (aside from alt-history, of course).

One thing that’s been on my mind a lot is how we are to care for one another while we can’t see each other in person.

Recently, a couple of friends have had babies. I’ve enjoyed seeing the pictures on social media, but it will be a long time before we can meet the new little ones in person. One of the most heartbreaking photos I saw was of grandparents “visiting” their new grandbaby through a window.

A week ago, we lost a dear friend. Not from COVID-19 but from complications of his long-term illness. Our online meeting that evening was sober as we all processed the reality of life without him.

At our next online faith community service, we were able to honor him. But we can’t fully pay our respects or celebrate his life together, not in the way we could have a few months ago.

In a different online community, we were discussing the complex problems of queer youth who are stuck in isolation with unsupportive family members. I mentioned checking in with my kids about some of their friends, kids we’re used to having in our home and providing safe space for. We’ve been unable to do that while we’re all separated.

These aren’t equivalent issues, of course. But they all speak to a similar problem of the ways in which we as humans are used to providing care. We have things we do, the ordinary rituals that mark the passage of time and welcome both life and death. We look after those who need it in times of distress. Now we don’t know when there will come a time that we can do those things again.

Marginalized people have a long history of adapting and changing because of the ways in which we often haven’t been allowed to do those things openly. When we look back on this time, will we see those patterns emerging again? Will we who write stories about our people spot unique ways of providing care?

My hope for you today is that you find one new way in which you can care and connect. I don’t believe we were meant to live in such isolation from one another, and yet we also have the responsibility to keep each other safe. Look after those you can, and let’s find creative ways to be here for our fellow humans.

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