There is a picture of us. Tubing at our local ski hill last February, right before the pandemic hit.
We look happy. Gleeful, even. We flew and bumped and careened our way down the hill, gripping onto each others' handles, screeching and laughing and making memories. Oblivious to the larger bumps that we couldn't see, just past the horizon.
A few weeks after that, we shut down. We shut down schools and businesses and some of us even shut down our hearts.
The arguing and discord in the world, in our communities, and even in our homes was too much.
The isolation was unbearable.
We longed to see faces. To feel the arms of our friends and loved ones wrap us up tight in a hug. But we didn't dare. We kept 6 feet apart and made our eyes crinkle so at least they would know we were smiling.
It has been more than a year since that day in the hastening winter sun. Since we stood shoulder-to-shoulder. Since we linked up our tubes and ate pizza in the chalet without worrying about gloves or germs or sitting 2 tables away from each other.
It has been more than a year since we've sat in a room with all those same people at the same time.
We miss those people. We miss people in general.
We miss who we were before all of this.
We miss not having to carefully consider the topics of conversation around people we run into or family members.
We miss sharing a meal with our parents.
We miss watching movies without being initially taken aback by the fact that no one on screen is wearing a mask.
We miss sitting elbow to bumpy elbow at a Twins game and huddling together in the stadium when it starts pouring.
We miss normal. We miss before.
We don't know when we will get back to our pre-March 2020 lives. Or if we want to.
We are different now. In a lot of ways, it is a blessing.
We have learned to be more patient and accepting. We have figured out there are a lot things that we needed to change--in our day-to-day lives and in the recesses of our hearts. Jobs and relationships and priorities.
We needed to be overhauled.
We are trying [clawing, bleeding, unearthing, transforming] to find our way to being better.
We have left the old behind and are being born into something else entirely.
I look back on that picture of us gathered together. Smiling. Loving. Joyful.
That day was a gift.
The day will come again when we can stand that close. Arm-in-arm. Hand-in-hand.
And never again will we take it for granted.
This post originally appeared on the author's Facebook page: