In an homage to a piece that Rick Bragg wrote this month in Southern Living, I thought I’d also take a stab at writing about what I’m going to do when this pandemic is over. I realize there’s probably not going to be a particular day when the edict goes forth that we can resume normal life. It will likely be a gradual thing. But when the time is right, God willing, here is what I dream of doing:
Hug my family for as long as I want. Then we’ll gather around our dining room table. We haven’t sat together at that table in over a year. We’ll give thanks that all of us made it through even though several had the virus. We will eat after each other and talk in each other’s faces just because we can. It’s going to take us hours and no one is going to be in a hurry, because we’re going to remember all the times we had to eat six feet apart, sometimes in the freezing cold just to be in each other’s company. The next weekend, we’ll do the same thing at a crowded restaurant, because oh, how we’ve missed eating at one of our favorite places, Mama’s Boy, during this pandemic.
We’ll have a big deal at church. I don’t know what we’ll call it. My husband is technically retired status, but not really, because he has hardly missed a Sunday preaching in thirty-five years. He’s been at a picture postcard church in a rural area for over ten years, and they still have Homecomings. It’s going to be something like that. We’re going to pack people in the church until the overflow hall overflows. Well praise God and greet, hug, and love on each other to make up for all the times we couldn’t.
We’ll take time to remember those we lost, for whom the funerals were abbreviated, and we weren’t allowed to comfort others as we normally do. Then we’ll sing a little extra and more loudly. We’ll have dinner on the grounds and eat until all the fried chicken is gone and our friend Randy’s delicious cakes are reduced to crumbs. We’ll take a long time to clean up because we won’t want to go home. And then maybe we’ll do it all again the next Sunday.
We’ll visit our friends in the nursing and retirement homes. Jerry regularly preached in one and I often did music but that all screeched to a halt last year. Well, when the doors swing open, we’ll be there to hug our friends and tell them how much we missed them.
Then maybe we’ll have a party at our house for anyone who wants to come. Because we won’t care about the cat fur on the sofa, the paint that needs touching up, or the unending list of yard work. Because after a year of having no guests in our house, we’re just desperate to share this space again. I may just open up my front door and put a big sign out front that says, “Open house. Come on in.”
We’ll go to a UGA football, basketball, or baseball game and sit really close to others and share a big tub of popcorn. Maybe even with a stranger. We’ll not be concerned at all that someone is hollering "Go Dawgs!" right in our ears because oh, how we have missed seeing those Dawgs in person.
I’m going to TJ Maxx. And not in some senior hour. I’ll let you know how long I stay.
I really hope to sing with symphony chorus again, too. I’ve missed it so much.
I'll travel. When my daughter was little and we had been out and about, we'd pull in the driveway coming home and she'd say, "NO, I want to go somewhere." She was all about seeing something new. Well, I want to stand in the driveway and shout, "I want to go somewhere." I'm ready.
When this pandemic is over, I’m going to once more fall on my knees and thank God for those who are right this minute putting there lives at risk for people they don’t even know. Doctors, nurses, EMT’s, firefighters, police, who are day after day staring down this enemy virus. Our hospitals here are still very full. I’ll again give thanks for the researchers and scientists who worked to develop a vaccine that has given hope in what has seemed an unending nightmare. I’m going to thank God for teachers who stood in the classrooms and taught online and tried to educate our children through one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history. I’ll praise God for essential workers who worked to provide food for our families, and delivery drivers who brought it to us. And all the other workers I don’t even know about who have kept things moving along.
When this pandemic is over, it won’t all be about what we’ll do but also sharing the ways we’ve been changed by this time. I don’t want to wait until then to learn what I need to learn. The apostle Paul who knew a good bit about hard times wrote in an oft quoted verse in Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Even during so much difficulty, if we love Him, God wants to use these things for our good. It can be a bit challenging to wrap our minds around, but still, it’s the absolute truth. So, Lord, help us to be open for that.
So, make your own list, but remember, until this pandemic is over, let’s keep putting others first, loving on our neighbors, remembering those who are alone or grieving, and giving where we see a need. Let’s remember to say thanks to anyone who does something for us. And let’s keep up our hope and our prayers that this pandemic will be over. Soon.