A free write on family
Laughter crashes around me as I stand in the corner of the room.
My family gathers around the dimly lit table. It’s only 5pm, but darkness comes early this time of year, skewing time and making it seem unnaturally late. Everyone is claiming their spot, laughing and speaking over each other, vying to be heard.
Smiles are not just in the eyes. They’re on faces. Faces that I can see fully. Smiles I haven’t seen in person for years.
I should be in the middle of it. I love family, and I love gatherings. Still, I detach myself and stand in the corner. I seek out the spaces close to windows, I’m Hyper-aware of any coughs or sniffles.
“You’ve had three shots. Three.” I tell myself, smiling at everyone while I wait my turn to slosh turkey and mashed potatoes on my plate. Unbidden, I wonder if this meal is worth getting sick over.
“Everyone here is vaccinated” I think, sitting down to my first extended family meal in two years. “Some of them have already had boosters.”
I eat quickly and move to the outskirts again. Away from the screams and laughter. Away from the games. I find a spot with one or two people who, like me, can’t seem to join the crowds.
Overall, it’s a pleasant evening. It seems like no one has changed.
Of course that’s incorrect. Of course we’ve all changed. Of course we’ve all experienced the pandemic in similar, yet completely separate ways.
Isolated. Grieving and frightened, but alone.
And now that we’re together, how do we come back from that feeling? How do I move forward?
Each new variant is frightening. Each gathering feels like a risk. Even with vaccinations.
And I wonder if I’ll be standing in corners for the rest of my life