M.B., 27, an Academic Staff in Palo Alto, CA

My Father is Perpetually 74 Years Old

Before COVID 19 became a global pandemic, my family had organized a trip for my parents and brother to visit California to celebrate Dad’s 75th birthday. Our family is currently separated between California, Washington, and Maryland, and to have everybody in the same place at the same time is a delightful rarity. When we are not together, it is rather difficult to feel that ineffable “sense of family,” the cocktail of complicated emotions that I feel as endearing. Our plan was to drive out to Lake Tahoe and spend the special day together, just being close, chatting, eating, being. As the situation unfolded, it became clear that we would need to postpone our reunion, at least until the summer. As summer progressed, our trip has been further postponed to whenever things do clear up, which is still uncertain. Because of this, my father is still 74. He did not have his 75th birthday, so he remains 74. Because of this, our family has not seen each other in person this year, and I am afraid that we will not be able to make it happen. While my family members and I are all incredibly lucky that nothing has happened to us (yet), the lack of togetherness has affected us all emotionally. I certainly have a negatively impacted sense of being as a result of the quarantine, which I think has been accelerated by the lack of closeness with my loved ones. Calling and video chatting really is not enough, and this experience has given me an emergent appreciation of time we were able to spend together in the past, and a resentment of my previous lack of gratitude. I really look forward to the resolution of this pandemic, for everyone’s sake, especially so my dad can finally turn 75.

[submitted on 6/30/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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