Beautiful, Fragile, Temporary

I woke at 3am to the silence only snow brings. The house had gotten very cold, the wood stove unable to keep up against the chill without someone feeding it every hour. The baby finished his feed and rolled over back to sleep. I got up and peed, fed the stove, watched the snow fall waiting for the wood to catch, the stove to reawaken. The snow was so beautiful, and fragile, and temporary.

Beautiful. Fragile. Temporary.

It seemed a good mantra. It encapsulated how I have been feeling about the world, the people in it, myself.

A stunning blanket of white that makes the sky even bluer, the leaves of the first bulbs popping through the ground so much greener. There have been so many stories of beauty in all this chaos. People singing from their balconies, people assisting others with their shopping, companies and universities and artists giving their products away for free to help people through.

Despite or perhaps because of the beauty, everyone and everything feels so fragile. Anxieties flaring. Even the introverts struggling with the isolation because it’s so forced, so pervasive, no end in sight. The snow had created structures that looked like tatting, like lace or spider webs. Not the typical frost seen on window panes, these were actual structures of snow in between the railing of the deck and the deck itself. Like icicles without the conical structure and dagger-like point. The structures disappeared when approached, unable to withstand the heat from even two paces.

The snow too was thinner that I’d thought and an hour of sun set it all to melting, it was nothing more than slush, completely gone by the end of the day. Like the people dying in record numbers each day.

Suddenly beautiful, fragile, and temporary sounds like a pretty horrible mantra. And the thing is, I don’t much want to feel beautiful and fragile and temporary. I want to feel confident, useful, and strong.

I want to exude confidence that my family and loved ones will survive this thing. I want my sons to know that all is well, everything is handled, there’s nothing for them to concern themselves with here. Play cars, eat snacks, ride bikes in the driveway; you’ll be back to playing with friends at the library and park soon enough.

I want to be so fucking useful that I’m satisfied with my day when I lay down at night. I want to know exactly how to use the produce that’s quickly going bad and that I won’t be able to replace for at least another week. I want to whip up meals and crafts and family dance parties like some mountain mama caricature of Martha Stewart.

I want my strength to radiate from the inside out such that I can not only hold up under all my own emotion but I can show my sons how to hold up under theirs. I want that strength to extend to my physical body such that I can hold my kiddos for hours if necessary as we sway back and forth and look out at the world.

Instead I can barely lift my arms and hands to type. I can barely wash a dish, or take a picture, or smile another smile to dispel fear. Barely. But I do. I wash the dish after letting my husband cook the meal. I take the picture as my husband sleds with the boys. I smile another smile while my husband holds them in his arms. I type my one hour.

Because the thing is, this too shall pass. This thing that is not beautiful or fragile, is at least temporary. This pandemic will go, and those of us who survive will remember how it was handled, how it could have been handled better, what worked, what didn’t. We will carry this knowledge to the voting booths. We will carry this knowledge to the next disaster. Collectively we will exude confidence, we will prove our usefulness, and we will show our strength.

We are currently beautiful and fragile, and this is temporary.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

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