March 13th, 2020

Friday the 13th:
the last day of school
unexpectedly cruel

TV projects lines
wrapping around stores
packed hospital halls
teary news anchors

the wind whistles fiercely
tearing the house siding
shaking our normalcy
crushing and dividing

This week’s Wea’ve Written Weekly prompt was another fun one! Here is Britta’s prompt poem and her guidelines:

  • Write a poem, any length, any style;
  • The title of your poem must be a date, including day, month and year;
    • Your date can be in the past, the future, or, simply the date on which you are composing your poem

I picked a date that I remember well during the early days of the pandemic, which was also the midst of chemotherapy for me. It was an evening where the weather, the unknown of the events of the world, and the uncertainty of my own health were all rather overwhelming, yet I remember feeling safe at home with my family, having faith that we would ride out the upcoming storm and all of those to come.

We used humor to get through it, too. Watching the news with my husband that night, I joked, “Let me get this straight: First, I’m diagnosed with cancer out of the blue, and now the world’s ending? Wow, I didn’t realize I was the glue holding this whole damned thing together.”

“Sounds about right,” was Eli’s response.

Well, the world didn’t end, and I made it to remission, so I think it’s safe to say we can make it through anything.

The only photos I have of this exact day are of my three boys playing together, which I think helps to reflect that harmony in face of uncertainty. One photo I have from the next day is of the longest line I have ever encountered in our local grocery store. It’s difficult to tell unless you’re familiar with the place, but the line wrapped all the way to the far back corner of the frozen foods section, as everyone prepared for the unknowns of what exactly a lockdown would entail.

I remember people with overloaded carts and crazed expressions. Everyone gave the woman in the chemo beanie a wide berth, for which I was grateful considering my immune system was a Neulasta shot and a prayer at the time. (The fact that we hadn’t yet had any actual cases of COVID in our entire county was the only way I convinced Eli to let me do my grocery run that day; starting the following week, he would do all our shopping for months.) I remember that the typical background Muzak was missing that day in the grocery store, replaced by the manager’s steady voice echoing over the loudspeaker. He announced limits on certain items, gave directions on how to navigate the growing lines, and reminded everyone to stay calm.

29 thoughts on “March 13th, 2020

  1. I also remember that date well. I was teaching then and that was the last day I spent in a classroom. And yes, then there’s the preparing for something we’d never encountered before, it was like before a predicted hurricane or major snowstorm, but…
    I am so glad you weathered the pandemic storm and your health storm. (Perhaps you are the glue?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! It definitely had the feeling of preparing for the wildest storm ever. The last movie my husband and I saw in the theatre before everything shut down just happened to be a zombie film, and I definitely felt dystopian/apocalypse vibes that entire spring.


  2. I remember that date as well! A time of anxiety and a touch of panic. I was calm but the air vibrated with tension. We didn’t participate in the panic buying as I had a stockpile of TP and canned goods to last. We survived and though it is still a strange world, it has normalized.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an unusual time! I just picked up our usual weekly groceries at the store that day (and maybe a few extra canned goods lol), but I saw quite a few people who were in full-blown panic mode and it made the whole situation feel more tense.


  3. What a day… Not that long ago, and still, so much has changed. You captured the strangeness of the day. None of us knew how to ‘compute’ this. We’re still learning. I’m glad that the world didn’t end, also, that you’ve made it to remission. Very poignant finish line of your poem ‘crushing and dividing’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Sarah! Oddly enough, my experience with this date was marked with both good and bad — starting off at a new job, reporting for the first (and last) day at the office before WFH and my car breaking down twice on the way home.

    Liked by 1 person

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