The silver SUV pulls slowly into the driveway. She puts it in park, but leaves the engine running. She grabs the bag containing eggs, bread and bacon, then reaches for a 4 pack of toilet paper from the floorboard just behind the passenger’s seat. She turns to her daughter as she lays the bag on her own lap just long enough to open the driver’s door.
“I’ll be right back… just wait here baby.”
She traverses the cracked sidewalk which leads to a bricked step porch. A front porch which appears to have been neglected for quite some time. She presses the doorbell, which has no illuminating light. This causes her to second guess it’s functionality, so she uses the creaking knocker. She turns to look back toward the SUV and then turns back in time to see the curtains move slowly.
“Mrs. Hill, I’m gonna leave this stuff right here for you… okay?”
Through the side window, she sees the old woman nod in a slow but thankful manner as she places the bag and toilet paper just outside the door. As she returns to the car, she pays special attention not to step on the loose section of brick that had broken free from the mortar. It was a futile attempt because there were so many sections that had broken apart. The last thing she needed was a trip to the ER. She takes a deep sigh as she reaches for the handle and opens the door. She is grateful that the skies are clear and that an early Spring has arrived.
“That was the last one. We can head home now.”
She shifts into reverse and turns to her daughter as she slowly releases pressure from the brake pedal. She had expected to see her 11-year-old daughter scrolling madly on the cell phone, but she wasn’t. She was looking at her mother.
“Mom… is this the end of the world now?”
In the corner of an empty supply closet, in a hospital in Bergamo, Italy… a nurse kneels. She wanted to place her head in her hands and just cry. The good kind of cry that lets it all out, but she couldn’t. “Everyone knows to keep your hands away from your face”, she thinks to herself. This causes an unexpected laugh, followed by an immediate downpour of tears. Then there is a knock on the door. Actually it’s more like a triple-kick from a pair of sneakers. She stands to open the door.
“Coffee? Would you like some coffee, Vittoria?” Vittoria smiles and relieves her comrade of one of the Styrofoam cups.
A small group of people, all standing apart, applaud the young couple who just exchanged vows on a sidewalk outside of a church in Norman, Oklahoma. As they kiss, someone yells, “That’s not Social Distancing!” Laughter erupts.
In Tacoma, Washington, two children simultaneously groan as Mom pretends to be overwhelmed with excitement as she exclaims, “It’s movie night again!”
Dad comes in with a platter of food and sits down on the living room floor next to his wife and kids.
“I’m not too sure that frozen fish sticks are the best choice to go with The Little Mermaid”, she says through rolling-eyed laughter. The giggles are immediately reciprocated by Dad and both kids.
In New York City, he finds a brief moment to retrieve his cell phone from the charger on the corner of his desk. He hasn’t checked it in more than 5 hours. He reads the text message and weeps.
“This is why you became a doctor! I’m so proud of you!!! I love you honey. Be safe!”
In the Caidian District of Wuhan, China, a young mother is rocking her infant son to sleep. She hums a soft lullaby. She hasn’t left the small, one room dwelling in weeks. A single tear starts to form in one eye… the death of her grandmother and her own father is still fresh on her mind. It hurts that she could not give them the memorial service they deserved. “If we make it through this… when we make it through this… I will honor them”, she thinks to herself. She feels her son’s breath on the side of her neck. This makes her smile.
In a suburb just outside Birmingham, Alabama, the silver SUV remains in the driveway. Her foot is still applying pressure to the brake. She had not anticipated that question from her daughter. She looks at the steering wheel briefly, then glances toward Mrs. Hill, who was just picking up the supplies left on the porch. She thought it strange how the sections of brick had come loose so many years ago, but still managed to be in their place. Realizing to herself that sometimes you have to separate yourself to come together… she turns to her daughter and says, “No baby… it’s not the end. It’s a glorious beginning.”