The list would be so very long.
Because of all the many restrictions that have been placed on us due to ongoing fear and paranoia about that nasty virus that somehow became unleashed on our world and created havoc everywhere months ago, so many aspects of our lives have changed.
And if we were to compose a list of those things we miss because of this craziness, it would be longer than a record of what a child wants for Christmas.
What do we miss? Let me count the ways. We miss gathering together with family and friends for all kinds of social events and observances – birthday parties, weddings, bridal and baby showers, picnics and potluck dinners, graduations, even memorial services, and congregating together for just plain fun.
We miss attending worship services in person with our fellow believers, and in some cases, just singing our praises to our God, not just sitting in front of a computer or phone watching online.
We miss visiting our loved ones in care facilities and they miss us desperately. We miss sitting in a hospital waiting room with family praying for a good outcome from a medical emergency.
We miss face-to-face meetings with our doctors, dentists, physical therapists, optometrists, chiropractors. We miss undergoing medical tests and procedures that are imperative to maintain good health.
We miss festivals and fairs, community events, and participatory fundraisers for good causes. We miss attending the theater, the movies, and concerts. We miss supporting our favorite sports in person, particularly watching our own children’s and grandchildren’s athletic events.
We miss enjoying a nice dinner out in a restaurant full of other people instead of eating take-out food in cartons at home or having “car picnics” in our vehicles after going through fast food drive-through joints.
We miss sending our children off to their first day back at school, knowing their teachers will instruct them well and they can play with their friends at recess instead of worrying over whether they’re understanding new concepts via online learning and hearing them cry because they can’t play with their friends while they’re weary of trying to learn from a computer.
We miss sending our young adults off to college in a normal fashion where they can exchange ideas in person and mingle together to make new friends instead of being sequestered in their dorm rooms doing online learning (why pay room and board for that??).
We miss seeing our co-workers in meetings at our physical offices, working alongside them as we converse and brainstorm in person instead of through video conferencing.
We miss shopping just for fun, not a mad dash in and out for just the basics hoping the store shelves aren’t empty. We miss wandering up and down store aisles willy-nilly instead of following the directional arrows and the social distancing areas marked on the floor.
We miss all too many locally owned shops and restaurants who have been forced to close their doors for good.
We miss being able to breathe freely without the hindrance of a mask smothering our noses and mouths, fogging up our glasses, and causing us to feel like a criminal every time we put one on before going out in public.
We miss living a life where we aren’t permanently attached to our little bottles of hand sanitizer, or wipes, or sprays.
We miss a lot! But you know what I imagine we miss the most? The touch of our fellow human beings. We miss shaking hands. We miss warm hugs of greetings. We miss a caring hand upon our shoulders. We miss a pat on the back.
And for me, I miss seeing people’s smiles.
“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”~ Joseph Addison
Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by masked people, for the most part. Those masks hide their expressions from me just as this darn mask, no matter how lively or bright or playful the material is, hides my face from them.
And I hate it. I hate not seeing people smile. I hate the fact that people I pass as we must social distance (!) can’t see me smiling at them. So they don’t respond with the same gesture.
It’s depressing. It’s denigrating. It’s dehumanizing.
It stinks, it makes me angry, yet it makes me even sadder over the state of our humanity right now.
I live in a state where our governor has enforced and keeps imposing draconian measures (just my opinion, you may have yours). Where parents are not permitted to sit in a football stadium to watch their kids play, where restaurants were allowed to open for inside dining, yet could only seat at 25% capacity.
To attempt to stay sane and experience some sense of freedom during the last few months, Papa and I have taken some day-long road trips – away from home just to get away, traveling to outdoor destinations.
We opt for taking picnic lunches along with us, but on one of our journeys on a week day, not a weekend, we found ourselves still a distance away from home at dinner time.
We located one of our favorite chain restaurants that was open for indoor seating. Donning the dreaded masks, we walked up to the hostess who was stationed outside the restaurant door. She informed us we would have a 45-minute wait.
Not knowing if we could find any other place to eat dinner besides a drive-through fast food place, we gave her our name and cell phone number so she could text us when a table became available for just the two of us. We sat in our car and waited and waited and waited. Forty-five minutes turned into an hour and then we received the text.
Walking into that usually bustling, busy, and noisy large restaurant which was only filled to 25% capacity at dinner time was odd to say the least. It was so quiet. There were no people seated near us. Entire sections of the restaurant were closed off with only one party in them. Honestly, it felt like the twilight zone – eerie and unusually strange.
Of course, every person inside that restaurant, including all of the wait staff naturally, wore masks until their food arrived. The few folks, even while eating, weren’t talking. Everyone was quiet as if the masks, even after we took them off to eat our meals, had stolen our voices.
Masks certainly had stolen our facial expressions as no one appeared to be smiling. What once was considered a normal, entertaining thing to do – enjoy a meal in a restaurant – was anything but.
But you know what? There was one bright spot in this dismal picture. Our waitress. Even though most of her face was hidden by her mask, she exuded joy. I’m sure she was happy to just be back in employment.
Regardless, her voice and demeanor were sweet and she seemed genuinely pleased to serve us which cheered me up considerably. I took off my mask and smiled at her.
And she smiled back at me. How do I know that? She had her own mask still solidly covering her nose and mouth and chin. She smiled with her eyes! Her eyes – I could see her smile by looking into her eyes.
So if there’s one word of encouragement I can give to everyone during this most trying and difficult time – one word to help us through this, one word to make not just ourselves feel better but everyone around us, masked or not – it’s this, SMILE.
Smile not just with your mouth because another person can’t see that behind your mask. Smile with your entire self. Smile from your heart so it reaches your eyes. And I guarantee someone else will see your smiling eyes and smile back at you.
“Use your smile to change the world; don’t let the world change your smile.” ~ Chinese Proverb