Sunday night. I had just returned to campus after spring break and I was in my best friend’s room. I asked, “So, what do you think about this Coronavirus thing? The last words my dad said to me before I left home were, ‘See you in a month!’ That’s crazy, right?” Before my friend had a chance to respond, her roommate retorted in an exasperated voice, “There’s no way we are going to be sent home. We’re not even the ones in danger. It is crazy.”
Friday morning. I lay on my bed, as my roommate got ready for class. My phone buzzed with the email that this entire week seemed to have been leading up to. The gist was, “No one knows what is happening. Because of that, you need to go home.” I packed up my entire room, my entire year, my entire life in less than two hours. I said goodbye to some of my closest friends, not knowing when I would see them again.
Friday night. Twelve hours later I was home with my parents and brothers, watching some terrible horror movie about a young woman fighting alligators in a hurricane. Later that night, I created a schedule to keep myself busy. If I could have control over anything, even just a piece of paper telling me when to wake up, I grasped for it. I started exercising. I started praying.
Monday night. I finished my “first” day of online classes. I finished my homework. I burned through my first of many candles to come. I began to sink into a state of emotionless repetition to ignore the discomfort and insecurity around me. I listened to my parents, my protectors, share fear and look depressed. I listened to my oldest brother worry endlessly about his cherished job.
Wednesday afternoon. I finished my classes. I finished my homework. My parents continued to work, and my oldest brother continued to work. It was just my other brother and me. This is always my favorite part of writing: introducing my other brother. His name is Peter. He has the best smile, he has the best laugh, and he has the best attitude. He also happens to have Down syndrome. Peter and I went outside to play with chalk. He began running around our driveway until I chased him down to tackle him. He got up, I chased him, he sat down to color. He got up again, I chased him again, and I caught him. As I tickled him, he leaned back into me. He smiled up at me with a breathtaking smile. I saw his beautiful eyes and their Brushfield spots looking directly into mine. Without words, he reminded me of how we can support each other and hold each other up, no matter our ability level, no matter our own, personal despair. While drawing with chalk and chasing my brother, I fell in love with life again.