*Who will not be born for a very long time because I am still very young

Dear Future Grandchildren Who Will Not Be Born For a Very Long Time Because I Am Still So Very Young,

First, how lucky you are, blessed children. You have been born to one of the two finest young men ever to walk this planet. I know this because I raised them from scratch, and I know they picked consummate partners with whom to raise children. Congratulations.

I’m writing from the year of our Lord 2020, when the Earth has been seized by a pandemic. I am hopeful that it is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of things that you will read about in your history books, and not a first-of-many-things that humanity just puts up with now. Regardless, it’s new to us. What it has meant for our little family is that we stay home now. Where I used to wake up before dawn and make lunches for your dad and your uncle in a dark kitchen, and then leave all day for an office, I now wake up shortly after dawn and make food all day, because my office is within hearing distance of the kitchen. Ask me how I know.

We’ve done ok, your dad, your uncle, your grandfather and I. We really have. I grew up in the country, really in the middle of nowhere, with no restaurants to speak of and no last-minute runs to the grocery store for missing ingredients. I have cooked for and cared for my family through a doozy of a hurricane. I am old enough to have some perspective, but not so old that I can’t use technology, which is helpful. I already knew how to bake bread, and I like spending time with your dad, your uncle, and your grandfather.  We even had enough toilet paper, made from bamboo and sourced by a socially responsible company, naturally. I had one meltdown about two weeks ago about paper towels, which are probably things that aren’t A Thing any more for you, future grandchild. But your dad and your uncle hugged me and brought me water, and I felt better.

I felt like I was doing everything right, future grandchildren. I was following the Law of Pandemic, which is written by The Scientists. I bought extra food, but not too much, because that would be hoarding. I stayed home, which for the first time in my life felt like an altruistic gift to the world instead of a selfish choice. The Law of Pandemic felt righteous, and it felt good to follow. It came naturally to me. These were rules I could follow while wearing elastic-waisted pants. I worried for the people of the world, but I was following the Law of Pandemic, and so I was Doing My Part.

One Pandemic Law that I followed to the letter was Do Not Buy Masks. You see, Future Grandchildren, we were instructed by The Scientists to save facial masks for healthcare workers. We didn’t need them, you see, and so we should not buy them. A few weeks (or days or months or years, who knows really, because Time is But a Social Construct Now) later, The Scientists changed their minds. Now we needed masks. Some local governments started fining people a lot of money for going out of their homes without a mask. The masks were now essential.

I said to your grandfather, “But we don’t have masks, because we followed the rules.”

He said, “But they can be sewn.”

I said, “But sewing is the one Survivalist Pandemic Skill that I do not have.”

And then I cried.

I had followed all of the rules, and then the rules changed.

At the same time, we were preparing to celebrate Easter. Every year since your dad and uncle were babies, I dressed them in seersucker for Easter. If you don’t know what seersucker is, ask your dad to see every single photo album that I’ve ever kept from their childhood. Your dad and your uncle will appear on the cover of every single one of those photo albums, wearing matching seersucker suits on the front steps of a church on Easter morning. Every year.

Not this year.

This year, the church will meet virtually.

That means, this year, we won’t go to church on Easter in the same way that we have gone to church since your dad and your uncle were babies. When that first baby was born, he was born at the very beginning of Lent, and your great-granddaddy died right before Easter. We came back to our church in time for the Easter Vigil. I sat in the hallway of the darkened church with that baby while the choir sang, “O Mary Don’t You Weep.” And I wept. The second baby was born just a few weeks before Easter. I took him to the Easter Vigil service that year when he was the size and shape of a grunting little piglet. When the church bells rang, I whispered in his ear, “We are Easter people.” And every year, those celebrations were wrapped in seersucker, scented with Easter lilies, and hummed to the tune of “Welcome, happy morning” and “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.”

Seersucker might seem like a silly thing to be sad about when there is a Global Pandemic going on outside. But grandchildren, I will admit to being a little bit sad that seersucker was canceled the year of the Pandemic. I had bought the little suits for the growing boys, but there had been no time to visit a tailor to fit the suits to their shapes, and so they sat in the closet. I was selfishly a bit bummed by all of it.

The seersucker sadness coincided with the week of the crying about masks, because I could no longer follow all of the pandemic rules that kept changing.

It was a hard week.

And then, unbidden, guess what showed up in our mail slot, grandchildren?

You will never guess.

You will guess, actually, because you have now heard this story before.

Seersucker facial masks showed up in our mailbox. They were carefully imagined and sewn by two of our Beloved Church Ladies, who were grandmothers themselves.

Four seersucker masks in our corresponding face sizes.

They knew I could not sew, that sewing was not in my Pandemic Wheelhouse.

They knew we needed masks.

And they knew how much that seersucker meant to me.

And then, I cried again.

I cried because the law convicted me, and as much as I tried to follow it, it beat me down. I cried because I lost, and in my being lost, love tracked me down and found me anyway. I didn’t even have to ask for it. It just showed up, unbidden but so welcome. I thought I could do Pandemic Survival without any help. I thought I could manage with my inventory of ground coffee and bread flour, and I guess I could, in a fashion. But I really can’t.

Those silly seersucker masks aren’t going to filter out a virus. I know this, grandchildren.

But they are going to let love in.

Easter joy is coming, whether we’re prepared for it or not. Easter joy is there for us when we need it the most, when we realize that we can’t keep up with the law, and that the law will not set us free. We’ll still follow the rules of The Scientists, knowing that they may change as scientific instructions can do. We worship a God whose love is unchanging and steadfast, as light as seersucker and as joyful as Easter morning.