“There are places I'll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone, and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead, and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all”
-John Lennon 1965
The Beatles released this song in 1965, since then, the world has experienced many more events that have altered the way people have lived. Our memories of these events are complex and often tied to our emotions. I remember the launch of the Challenger, counting down with my first grade classmates, excited that a teacher from our school district was on the shuttle headed into space! And, the launch was a televised disaster. My classmates and I could not fully comprehend what had happened, but our teacher was visibly shaken, and the mood in the school was somber. So often, kids pick up on the multitude of non-verbal messages that accompany world changing events. Our words are important, but the way they are delivered is paramount. The emotions, the tone of voice, the non-verbal cues are the music that plays long after the lyrics are forgotten.
Each of us are making memories during this uncertain adjustment to life alongside a global pandemic. Adults and children alike will recount what it was like to navigate a corona-virus world. Historians in the future will look back at response to inform their own understanding of life during 2020. We’ll remember the feelings that accompanied the things that we do or can’t do, the people we miss, the moments where we discovered joy and connection amidst social distancing, and the love we gave and received.
My own children will have their childhoods altered by this virus, even if we never exhibit any physical symptoms. My oldest will remember the frustration of online school, the shorter school days that allowed for more playtime outside. My youngest will remember, not much honestly, but maybe that time mom cut his hair in the bathtub, and the hours of parent playtime and snuggles, and missing his buddies at daycare. As they grow, they will gain context for what they experienced, and perhaps a different understanding of why dad worked in the basement, why we went outside to howl with our neighbors at 8pm each night. Their memories will be revisited with new information and emotions, their recollections changing as they age.
My memory of my own lived experiences become my companion during these unprecedented times. I remember the fear I felt when I sat with friends at a pizza parlor on the evening of September 11, 2001 as military jets soared overhead. The sound of the planes overhead, once easy to ignore, caused me then to tense up, tear up, and lean into the grief of the day. It’s similar to the unfamiliar feeling of a cotton mask on my face as I grocery shop, and the care with which I navigate around my neighbors in the aisles, though not exactly the same. Our memories are with us, telling us stories as we compose our memories of current events.
Our emotions during times of change can be complex. Do not shy away from feeling gratitude and misery, hope and despair, passion and indifference, both at the same time, for each of these are carrying honest response to your own lived experience. They are a part of your honest memory of this time, as well as inspiration for the work ahead of each of us in the coming months and years. Avoidance of those feelings does not mean you are rid of them, only that they’ll stick around and surprise you at other times. If you give them the recognition and space they require, perhaps you will find healing, resolution, and growth added into your memories of this difficult time. Take care of yourself so that you can extend care to others. Remember to make space, rest, listen, and be well.