we arrive at the water, after picking mulberries, tahvy holding them tight in her yellow panda pail. a 7-year-old boy and his 4-year-old sister stand not far along the shore. the little girl perks up upon seeing us arrive, she starts to walk over to us.
‘6 feet!’ barks her brother. the little girl ignores him, continuing to walk over to us. he trails her. she waves at my baby and asks, ‘do you want to be my friend?’
my baby takes a mulberry out in her hand and offers it to her. the girl makes a motion to receive the berry and her brother slaps her hand away.
‘leave me alone,’ the little girl shouts, angry at her brother. he doesn’t. he continues to track her. telling her off and monitoring her distance.
she tries once more, to come over to us. he stands in front and blocks her. i can see the touch-starved in her eyes. she is desperate for connection, it is obvious.
i want to wrap up her in a forever hug and give her the presence she is asking for. but in between us stands the horrifying experience of a tiny social distancing nazi.
the father is standing in the distance, on his phone, pacing back and forth. i guess his work is done, for now – big brother is already here, policing.
there is a hardness to the little boy’s eyes, a premature callousness. he has already been taught that only in his virtuousness is he worthy of receiving love.
i flash forward for a moment and see him barking harsh orders on a microphone. those cold dead eyes. a soul already sold. what will he prioritize?
men to the left, women to the right.
children left standing alone.
what does this boy remind you of?
what events beyond our time?
this is not the main dish, folks.
this is just the beginning.
this is just the appetizer
for what is to be coming.
we are not the targets of the feast of the century.
the prey is clear as sight can be —
hold on tight to your babies.
these are the children that are and will be —
conditioned from the very beginning.
‘safety’ is the priority.
a sanitized world.
a sterilized humanity.
‘it’s for our wellbeing, everyone’
the fear – the caution – the separation.
the faces unseen, hidden away.
the normalization of this.
the stripping away
of what it truly means to be human.
how easy it is to get used to it all.
a little less touch.
a little less hug.
a little less space.
a little less song.
a little less smile.
a little less kiss.
a little less thought.
a little less breath.
a little less here, a little less there.
it’s not so bad, not so bad.
until you don’t notice it’s gone at all.
i can’t walk into society without bumping into this. this permeating feeling of dis-ease. all the masks that are littered everywhere on the streets, truly a disgrace to humanity. the dirty looks, the pulling away, the heightened confusion in the air.
and then this.
he is only a 7-year-old boy.
how deep is he in already?
i look him warmly in the eyes.
i say, ‘don’t worry, we’ll keep our distance.’
‘would you like to throw rocks from 6-feet apart?’
he hesitates, for a moment.
i pick one up. ‘look, this is a good one!’ – i place it on the ground for him. then i step away. he looks over at me. he picks it up and throws it.
i feel a surge in my heart.
he is still a kid.
he can make it!
we throw rocks for awhile, standing far enough apart, his little sister and us and him. we chat and they tell me about their life – they speak candidly and honestly. a flock of geese come to serenade us, and together, we feed them mulberries.
at the end the little girl gives me a big hug and says, ‘i wish you were my mom.’
the little boy doesn’t stop her, this time.
i wave to him as they leave with their father.
he smiles and waves back to me.
a glimmer of light resurfaces in my heart.
i still have — hope — for humanity.