This Quarantine Is Brought to You by the Letter S

S is for the Sense I got at the grocery store on the first night that something had shifted in the way we all saw the stripped shelves.

S is for last Sunday, when I stood in a church with nearly empty pews and led the psalm from the choir loft, just me and the music director, staying six feet apart even though we’re usually both huggers.

S is for Six feet apart, which sounded like a straight-to-streaming knockoff movie until it became the way we live.

S is for Social distancing, which sounds like how a pretentious lifestyle guru would describe a breakup.

S is for the Schools many parents started at home on Monday, our informal attempts to give structure to our children and ourselves. In our family’s school, we choose a letter of the day. One day last week, which might actually have been a month, we chose S in honor of the coming new season.

S is for Spring, which officially began last Thursday, coming sort of a day early because of Leap Year, but also feeling way later than when we’d asked it to show up.

S is for all the Silly ways we try to cope: Frozen II, day pajamas and night pajamas, virtual happy hours, Frozen II, facetimes with family members, Frozen II, and the endless sharing of memes. Memes might seem shallow, and maybe they are, but for many of us, they’ve evolved into a shared language that gives us the quick, heartening laugh of being in on a joke, even when we’re stuck in isolation. #QuarantineLife, right?

S is for Sabbath in sanctuaries and synagogues, for all sacred spaces now silent.

S is for this Scary time that sneaked into our lives and stole our normal.

S is for Shame that we weren’t better prepared. That our livelihoods are suddenly shaky or just plain gone. That the professions our society has looked down on are now the ones keeping us afloat. That the people prepared to save our lives lack basic protections for themselves. That the social safety net that would have caught us has been shrewdly shredded.

S is for Sadness, bone-deep sadness at what we’ve lost already and at what losses still lie ahead.

S is for the Solution—a treatment, a vaccine, a policy, a flattened curve—that is sometime in the secret future. We don’t know when the solution might arrive, or how bad this all might get before it does.

S is for the Shock that a few weeks ago now feels like Before, and we really have no idea when we’ll reach After.

So, for now,

S is for Supporting each other.

S is for Seeing who needs help and Stepping up.

S is for Sharing what we have: ideas, supplies, free school lunches, dropped-off dinners, memes, encouraging words, and perhaps even (if it comes to it) spare toilet paper.

S is for Shedding tears whenever we need to. We all need to.

S is for Sunshine and the restorative vitamin D it provides.

S is for living more Simply than we have in a long time, and for seeing that maybe that’s not all bad.

S is for Sticking to commitments that provide stability for others.

S is for Saying “thank you” and really meaning it.

S is for finding Sanity in small moments—as small as seeing something bloom that wasn’t blooming yesterday and reminding yourself that the earth is still alive and trying.

S is for Singing, even if you think you can’t. In the shower, in the kitchen, in the streets and on the sidewalks with a socially distanced chorus.

S is for Sustaining ourselves, our families, our neighbors, in a Spirit of hope.

S is for all the ways we’re going to Survive.