Memorial Day weekend is a little different for us this year. We’re on day four of our Covid isolation. No dragging the chairs out of the basement for the long-awaited first trip to the outdoor pool. No picnic for friends and family. My husband will not leave early tomorrow morning for a parade and solemn cemetery performance with his drum corps. Instead, there were frantic phone calls and emails yesterday to plan parade logistics, since several leaders of the corps are also Covid positive.
It’s not so bad, really. Thanks to the miracle of vaccines, our symptoms are mild, almost non-existent. The downside is that it’s so easy to shrug off a sneeze or two or a slightly hoarse voice. We were business as usual until those two lines showed up on the test I took almost as an after-thought on Thursday morning. And then there’s the guilt—contacting the hairstylist and the choir director and the other people we may have unknowingly infected. My friends in the medical profession tell me Covid’s like wildfire right now, partly because people just don’t realize they have it, assuming it’s allergies or a minor cold.
But we’re comfortable at home where there are always chores to do, and Giant Direct brought me exactly what I ordered at the exact time promised. We sit on our porch and enjoy the birds in the backyard and the antics of our dogs in hot pursuit of squirrels and chipmunks and marvel at the gigantic snapping turtle that has taken up residence on a bed of grass clippings behind our shed. We have been forced to slow down and stop the madness, at least briefly, and yes, even for us retired folks, there is still plenty of madness.
I think about the Memorial Days I experienced growing up. Small town parades were a Big Deal. The grown-ups wore little red poppies sold by the veterans’ organizations, and we stood along the sidewalks to honor those who had fought in two World Wars, Korea, and Viet Nam. We could finally wear our flip-flops again, and the snowball man and Mr. Softee returned, clanging their bells in the summer evening twilight. Decoration Day meant the re-opening of my grandparents’ “verandah”–the covered porch where we spent many an evening eating produce from my grandfather’s garden and watching the lightning bugs dance or reading books on rainy afternoons.
But this year Memorial Day takes on an even deeper meaning after the horror and tragedy of this past week. This morning we streamed the service from the National Cathedral which became our virtual church home during the pandemic. The Dean of the Cathedral, Randy Hollerith, preached, and as always, connected scripture to the reality in which we live. As he listed the statistics from recent mass shootings, a child began to cry somewhere out in the congregation. This was serious wailing, not just a disgruntled sniffle or two. His or her sobs reverberated throughout the massive vault of the cathedral, as piercing as the solemn notes of taps sounding over a silent cemetery on Memorial Day. And all I could think of were the tears and screams of those nineteen children and their devastated families. That child cried for all of us.