When I visited Connor’s school this year, things felt different. I mean there were the obvious changes, the hand sanitizer, the masks, the signs about not using the drinking fountains. But more subtle was the distance between people. When I stopped to ask students what they were working on, I stayed back farther than I normally do. When I talked to the teachers, we were always mindful of 6 feet between us. People are being cautious.
As they should be.
But when I stepped into Connor’s classroom, I had the best reminder of the pandemic. Distance is hard. And hug are important. He has the most amazing teacher. I have admired her for many years. She has a warmth and a caring that is palpable when you step into her room. Nothing about that has changed.
After a brief visit, when I shared that Connor was my nephew and my godson, she told Connor that he could give me a hug.
We both paused.
I was standing far away from him…at least 6 feet. We were both in masks. It was unlike any visit to his classrooms I’ve made over the years. Connor Day my sister calls it. At the suggestion that he could, in fact, give me a hug, we both stopped and looked at each other. We were both analyzing the risk.
As I’ve talked to people in recent weeks about what is causing them stress, one of the most common responses has been the fatigue involved in making every little decision.
Is it safe for my child to go to the neighbor’s house?
Is it safe to eat out on a patio when the closest table is far away?
How will we celebrate Thanksgiving? Christmas?
No decision is easy anymore. We want to be safe. We want to keep the people we love safe.
In that moment, Connor and I had to weigh the options. In the end, with neither of us having any symptoms, having been around anyone with any symptoms, both wearing masks, both healthy overall, we decided to give each other a hug. It was quick. But it was every single thing I needed.
When people ask me what I miss the most right now, I tell them movie theatres and hugging my parents.
I have said before that I would never, ever advocate doing anything unsafe. We have to mask up and avoid crowds and wash our hands. And I can’t hug my parents. And it sucks.
But I can use video calls to stay connected. I can wear a mask and keep my distance and catch up with my parents on their front porch.
And in that moment I could hug Connor.
“Hug” the people you love. It might not be an actual hug. It might be a phone call or a Facetime or homemade cookies dropped off on their doorstep. Find ways to show the people you love that we are still connected in all of the ways that matter.
The decisions are hard, but we can do hard things.