I get it. I understand why we’re here.
My daughter, Willow, knows she should be in school. She gets that Sunday’s are church days, Wednesday nights are for Awana. Stores are for exploring and restaurants made for eating.
But we’re not doing any of those things. Life is at a standstill.
Willow gets that people are “sick.” She rocks at wearing a mask. But it’s not that simple and this whole staying home thing doesn’t make sense to her. Especially when she sees others moving on with life.
Based on the advice of Willow’s cardiologist and several other health professionals who work with her, we made the painful decision to pull Willow out of school a few months ago. While our state has a mask mandate, 1st graders aren’t the best at following rules. Adults aren’t that great at it either. So, we’re here. At home, where it’s safe.
Starting next week, all 3 of my kids will be home full time. Bella, our oldest daughter, opted to start distance learning a few months ago, saying the anxiety of staying in school was just too much. She had fears of bringing Covid19 home with her. Our son, Laken, expressed similar fears, but struggled to commit to distance learning. Not wanting to be the world’s crappiest parents, we let him stay with his classmates for another quarter. During Christmas break, he told us his gift to us would be to agree to come home and begin distance learning. I cried. The wave of guilt and relief clashing inside me.
This is all so hard and I’ve spent a lot of time being angry. Angry at the people who say we should “protect the vulnerable,” without really thinking about what that means. Angry at the people who want to move on with life, “return to normal,” or downplay the seriousness of Covid19. Angry at the many who talk about their “rights,” while ignoring my daughter’s.
Willow does have rights. The right to go to school and receive a fair and appropriate education. The right to worship in church. The right to live. Locked in this house, away from the eyes of others, it’s easy to forget that.
And then there are my other children’s rights. And my husband’s. I guess I have rights too.
I wish we could just strap on a mask and move on with life. I wish we could gather with our friends. I wish we could send our kids to school. I wish we could go to church. But we love one of the “most vulnerable.” Our rights… just don’t matter at the moment. Willow is worth the sacrifice. At least, that’s how we feel…
While I admit, anger invaded my heart this past year, I didn’t let it consume me. It’s hard to remain mad when living with this girl.
Willow is joy. She’s great at living in the moment. She finds happiness wherever she is. And that makes the situation all the more heartbreaking.
For the good part of a year, the world hasn’t heard Willow’s giggle. Few have had the chance to experience her incredible personality. Little have felt her love.
I guess I understand why hate has so quickly taken over…
But not here.
In 2021, I’m replacing anger with determination. I won’t let the ugliness of the world steal my joy. I will follow Willow’s example. I will live. I will love. And most importantly, I will not let this girl be completely forgotten.