Sorry that Mets’ opening day on March 26th never happened. Sorry, we couldn’t get there early to watch Pete Alonso take batting practice, maybe hit one out of the stadium and two off the scoreboard. Sorry, we couldn’t go to the concession stand in between the second and third innings. Sorry, I couldn’t put my arm around you as you shivered on the long line. Sorry, you couldn’t eat your lukewarm hot dog and not-so-hot chocolate. Sorry, I couldn’t return later with a $12 flat beer for me and cotton candy for you. Sorry, I couldn’t see the sugary syrup in the cracks of your lips and space between your fingers. Sorry, we couldn’t finish the day at the Lemon Ice King of Corona, licking ices in the cold as the paper cup melted in our hands.
I’m amazed that on that same day, your older brother, Brandon, came out of his bedroom. Out of his 14-day quarantine, following his abbreviated semester abroad. Amazed that he left Milan, then Berlin, then Copenhagen, all in the nick of time. Amazed, your brother landed the day that Trump shut the borders. Amazed, Brandon’s throat, never felt too bad, that his temperature never broke 100. Amazed, I still don’t know if he ever had Coronavirus and probably never will. Amazed, Mom and I never got it either.
I’m disappointed that we never got to watch March Madness on TV. Disappointed, I missed your texts when a 15 seed beat a 2. Disappointed, I didn’t see your texts about a 7’5″ Nigerian who played for Ball State or Morgan State or some other state. Your texts that would have told me he could dunk without jumping. Disappointed, I couldn’t watch the Championship game with you, whether a blowout or last-minute shot. Disappointed, I couldn’t keep you up an extra 20 minutes to watch the highlight montage of One Shining Moment for the tenth straight year. I’m even disappointed I missed Mom’s pleading that it was a school night, and you needed to get to bed.
I’m frustrated I can only get sushi once a week, and it gets hard in the fridge. Frustrated, I can’t watch the rice stick to your fingers, and the soy sauce splatter on your shirt. Frustrated, I can’t buy more shrimp, because the freezer aisle is bare. Frustrated, you and I can’t make shrimp scampi, shrimp in tomato sauce, or just plain, good old popcorn shrimp. Frustrated, we can’t watch the sunset behind a roadside stand waiting on a hot buttered shrimp roll. Frustrated, I can’t buy the Costco shrimp cocktail platter you and I usually finish before dinner. Frustrated, mom and I can’t laugh at the meaty chunks of shrimp you still leave in the shell.
I’m upset that this phrase social distancing has taken over. Upset, you can’t sprawl around the floor, playing video games with your friends. Upset, you can’t kick a ball or have a catch. Upset that walk down Main St. this spring won’t happen that you can’t grab a slice or cone. Upset, you can’t see a movie or perform in the spring band recital.
I’m saddened we can’t tour colleges this spring, figure out what kinds of schools you like, visit the sprawling green quads, and palatial gyms. Saddened, we will never again get the chance to watch the tour guides walk backward, shocked they don’t fall, like the guide did on your brother’s tour five years earlier. Saddened, you won’t be taking the SAT, studying and cramming and stressing because it counts for everything. Saddened, you won’t be going to junior prom, that we won’t be taking a picture on our front lawn with your friends and their dates. Saddened, I won’t be able to say to Mom that your strawberry-blonde hair goes so well with your dates’ dress, and Mom won’t be able to say you make a great couple.
I’m encouraged, however. Encouraged, we may learn, to do and live without. Encouraged, many of us will never get the Coronavirus, and if we do, it may be mild. Encouraged, it has scared us all enough that we will appreciate and feel the loss that others will bear. Encouraged, people post that Anne Frank lived in a 40 square meter attic for 761 days and wrote in her diary. Encouraged, we do more than nod when we read it. Encouraged that as we grow a little closer to Anne Frank, we get closer to ourselves and our writing. Encouraged, so long as we can wake, find a pencil or keyboard, we can write, regardless of what surrounds us.
Still, I’m not. Not with you. Not for the last three years since that night bone cancer took you from me. Not this spring as Coronavirus took over the world or forever in time.
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Photo courtesy of the author