Tell me your story. If you’re reading this, you are living through a deadly pandemic that has killed more than five million people worldwide. So far.
If you’re reading this, you are just coming off Thanksgiving and zooming toward peak holiday season. Expectations for joy abound, lights dazzle and music bombards us with its slightly out-of-sync cheer. Some of us gather strength and purpose from the festive spirit. Some of us feel that the gifting and shopping, and the stuffing of turkeys and ourselves, are just too much.
Post-vaccine, we are resuming life, but not exactly. We are moving toward normal but watching the new variant coming from South Africa. Flights are canceled again. Holiday parties are on again, off again, depending on where you live and what the rules are.
The one absolute commonality we share: We are alive in this moment, during the worst epidemic of our generation. Each of us has a story to tell, and I would like to offer this space for you to share yours.
Some years ago, my son-in-law, Josh, said he wanted to interview my parents for StoryCorps.org, an online website where anyone can post a story about themselves. Once posted, it lives on in perpetuity.
More recently, Storyworth has taken off. Another venue, it sends the person of your choice weekly questions and, at the end of a year, compiles the answers into a book, which becomes a keepsake of their thoughts or history or memories. Moth Radio features first-person human-interest stories.
We have been telling one another stories ever since men and women were able to scrawl drawings on caves. We share common memories, but we see those bygone events through varying prisms. The truth of any one person’s stories is always on a sliding scale.
When Josh called me and asked if it was OK for him to record my parents and post their stories to StoryCorps.org, it was the worst possible time. My folks were 97 and 92 years old. They lived in south Florida. Josh lived in California, way north of San Francisco and far away from any reasonable international airport. He said he had only two days he could travel to my folks’, including flying time.
I told Josh it wasn’t a good time. I knew it wasn’t a good time. I suggested we leave it to my mother. She said yes. Josh flew on a Thursday, arriving at their house at 1 a.m. on Friday. That day he interviewed each of my parents for four to five hours, on and off, between their meals and physical therapy sessions and looking for my dad’s cane, hat, shoes, eating glasses, reading glasses and walking glasses. Josh was on the ground in Florida for about 24 hours.
The stories are now part of StoryCorps history, and they’re even more precious now. Dad died in 2017. Mom died two years later.
We all want to be known, to say in words that we have walked the earth and lived and loved. In this pandemic, we want to get out of our own heads, where we’ve been living alone for so long, and tell the world how we’re getting through. How has our work changed? What happened in school and out of school? What was it like to care for young children day after day and month after month with little relief aside from outdoor gatherings?
As a longtime married woman, I feel like the subject of an experiment on human behavior. The question: How do isolation and stress affect marriage? In March 2020, most of us thought the virus might knock us off our routines for a few weeks. Now I have a 50-page folder of Covid Cuisine, quick meals for when we want to eat but I don’t want to cook.
The need to tell stories is etched into our souls, part of our DNA. Why not try it in this space? Please, tell me your pandemic story in 50 words or fewer, and I’ll use my column to post the most compelling ones. You can be anonymous if you wish. We did this before, in less dramatic times, and it was enlightening.
So, take a few minutes and put together a few words. Send them to the email below. I’ve been telling you my story every week since the pandemic fractured our sense of well-being. I want to know yours.
Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.