Freshman Year Forgotten
My years walking the Oregon State University campus were some of the happiest of my life. When my daughter chose to go there I couldn’t have been more excited for her. When she pledged my own sorority I looked forward to watching her learn and grow through the experience of having sixty or more new sisters.
A few weeks ago she got on a plane with six people and a small suitcase not knowing when she would return. This is sadly where our similar stories diverge. She left behind her newfound freedom and the friendships she had made. She is home now studying online in her high school bedroom surrounded by her club soccer sweatshirts, high school year books, and prom dresses. Everything else sits in a vacant dormitory on a campus that has been reduced to a ghost town.
I think of the impact this will have on her young life. She sat with me in my office yesterday, she had a forlorn look on her face that I have never seen before, and her attention was far away. I don’t know what this feels like. But, I do know it is impossible to fix because no matter what happens next you can never go back in time. There is not a bookmark in this story where you can turn back to the page where you were in the spring term of your freshman year of college. It is gone forever, and with it the joy and innocence of those days. Instead, she will remember quiet days in the house with her family with an enemy no one can see.
I tell my daughters to understand people are dying all over the world. I reassure them this will not last forever. Yet, in the back of my mind I wonder if this is really true. Our lives are undeniably altered, collectively we have lost our innocence as we educate ourselves on pandemics, illness, collapsing economies, collapsing healthcare systems, and the food shortages that comprise the now small ecosystem of our daily lives.
These days, however, set the stage for moments we will always remember. Like eating pizza, listening to music and playing cards against the backdrop of a silent night. Or, to have days on end to read and dream, these are very good things.
To be happy and well in the middle of a pandemic is no small thing.
Love and blessings to all.