In the Shade, in the Shadow of Coronavirus
A giant banyan tree stands in my front yard.
One day this week, after lunch, my children and I gathered beneath it on a white sheet covered in little red hearts, enjoying the shade on a sunny, breezy Florida afternoon. One of my daughters lay on her stomach, feet in the air, reading aloud poems by Shel Silverstein, while my other daughter taught my son how to fly.
She’s been a flying expert for years. First, she climbed up into the crook of the tree. Then she grabbed the thick rope tied to an even higher branch. Finally, she took a deep breath and leapt.
Before this week, my son had never dared try. He’s still little, and there hasn’t been a lot of time in our busy lives for climbing trees in the middle of the day. Until now.
This week, my son wrapped his still-chubby hands around that rope. He looked down at me from the tree and said, “It gives my head the shivers.” Then he summoned his courage and jumped.
For a moment, he fell, eyes wide with fear. But then his legs twisted around the knotted rope, and he beamed as he swung out and up through the air, far over the thick grass. Back and forth, back and forth, he swung, a little lower each time. When he was done, he climbed right up the tree and did it again. And again. A dozen times, more.
Suddenly there is plenty of time for climbing and swinging from trees. For baking banana bread from scratch. For family walks and bicycle rides. For late mornings and movie nights.
It is so strange, this sweet amid the bitter. This joy and calm amid the pain and calamity.
I feel thankful. So far, all my family members are healthy and employed.
I feel guilty. I know many others are not.
I feel like I’m standing in that tree, the rope in my hand, looking down and down and down at the ground below. Waiting for what comes next.
It gives me the shivers. I’m afraid we’re all about to fall.
But, oh, how I hope that, instead, we will fly.