Gifts from a Pandemic #9: New Appreciation for The Little Things

My Dad’s eyebrows were long and black, an occasional grey hair tucked in the mix.

While sitting at the breakfast table together, he would push the longest hairs up, nearly an inch to his forehead, and we would laugh.

Then he would smooth them all down like an army brigade getting back in line.

Ever since he’s been gone, the moments I think of are like this, snapshots, moments of laughter locked in time.

I miss the way he smiled, the way when he’d laugh so hard at jokes, he’d get a cramp in his side and keep on laughing through the pain.

I miss the way his hands were always warm, and how he’d hold my small hands in between his to warm them up when I was a little girl, especially after I just came inside after playing in the snow.

Isn’t it funny how it’s the imperfections that we miss the most? I’m becoming more and more aware of this now, with the shelter-in-place restrictions keeping us apart.

Whether it’s because someone has passed, or a global pandemic or illness making it impossible to be together, it’s ironic that what we miss most has nothing to do with the social appearances we spend so much time and energy trying to maintain.

Most of us are missing things like a passing hand on our back, a hug, the way a friend’s face looks, fine lines, grays and all, in clear and plain view, not through the fog of a computer screen.

I remember one morning when I was 20 and studying in London, far from home, sitting on the hard plastic seat of the subway, flanked by strangers and the dank smell of urine and stale coffee.

I was staring at my hands, limp in my lap, listening to the clickety-clack of the train in rhythm with the inky dark and bright lights of subway tunnels and stations passed.

In a flash, I saw my own hands become my mothers. Redder, fuller, more wrinkles, probably similar to my own right now.

It was in that moment, I realized I was homesick.

Yearning came before knowing, as I wished for the comfort of her hands closer to my own.

It was long before Iphones, when my only contact with my parents was a weekly phone call on a public pay phone.

While there was no way of knowing, I wondered if she was thinking of me in that moment too.

It is the imperfections we wish away now that, after we are gone, our loved ones would do anything to have back again.

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