Sunday, September 20, 2020

Losing the Tiny Bits of Love

This morning I had “safe coffee” with a friend. 

 Safe coffee is one of our new practices where to be COVID safe we have coffee with a friend—outdoors, masked and six feet apart. Weird? Yes. Awkward? For sure. Better than nothing? Absolutely. This is social life in the time of COVID. 

 What I realized today is that many of us have moved from never leaving our homes, to waving across the street, to establishing safe pods with family, to now venturing further and seeing extended family in the backyard or seeing a good friend for coffee or lunch. It’s a select team. We are careful, and we are making choices. 

 It’s rich and a thrill compared to March, but we are still missing so much. What we talked about today was the realization that while we do see those closest to us now, we are missing acquaintances. Acquaintances are out. People in passing are out. Know what I mean? Think about it. 

 Yes, we are hugging our immediate family, dining with extended family, having coffee with a good friend and looking at them across the table. That’s a lot of goodness and a goodly amount of affection. But in our past lives (before March 2020) that’s not where all of our social life came from. 

Before that big quarantine and COVID scare hit all of us we had an enormous amount of people contact everyday even if we didn’t “do” anything with loved ones. We chatted with neighbors, stood in parking lots and caught up with folks after church, we ran into people we knew in stores and at the post office. 

If pressed we would not have said that any of those people were our friends, but they were in and out of our lives, and we were in and out of theirs. What we got from those hundreds of small encounters were bits of love and affection: handshakes, hugs (back when we hugged the way we shook hands) and we also looked at each other. We had seconds or minutes to really see each other. We affirmed their human presence and they affirmed ours. 

 Yes, we are Zooming. I can see your new haircut and I can complement you. You can see the art in my kitchen and ask about it. But all those mini, daily, tiny bits of love and affirmation are gone. 

And it is not crazy to miss them or grieve them.