Today was muted. The sky was dark and gray. It felt like the earth was pulling the covers over its head, trying to go back to sleep, to hope hopelessly that this was all a dream.
Walking to class, the sweat making my shirt stick to my back. I crossed the bridge, but it was silent. People sped around me like fish in a stream, but we were all behind our private panes of glass. We were all looking out at a window display that we couldn’t believe was real life.
In class, my friend came in late. She sat down next to me and I looked at her. I put a hand on her hand and she put her hand over mine, and we just shared that human touch.
In the middle of the street, my friend called out to me. We stepped out of the traffic and clung to each other. We held on tight. We did not let go.
In my class, my professor rubbed his eyes beneath his glasses. He said we were going to read Edgar Allan Poe, revenge tragedies, but in light of the circumstances, it wasn’t appropriate. Instead, he picked a different poem. After his voice became clogged from tears, the students began to read the stanzas.
The opening lines were these:
I celebrate myself, and sing myself
And what I assume you shall assume
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (1892).
I sat in a coffee shop and I saw people graze fingers. Small motions, but subtle reassurances. People treated each other gently, but not like glass. Glass can break. Glass can shatter or melt under heat and pressure. They, we, held each other differently. Like something precious. Something to be cupped in soft palms, to be nestled close to hearts. We treated each other like our own hearts. Protected. Protective.
In the midst of mourning there is morning. There is the hint of a sun peaking behind a cloud. It doesn’t disturb us, because it knows we aren’t ready. But when we are, when we have grieved and held each other and grazed fingers to let each other know that we’re still there in this wide darkness, it’ll come through. It’ll warm us up. It won’t be an oppressive heat.
It’ll be the heat of coming home after a long day and the radiator is rattling in your apartment. It’ll be the heat of the oven door as it whoshes open and good smells come out. It’ll be the heat of hands together, fingers interlaced. It’ll be the heat of warmed metal as someone holds the door open for you.
The sky was heavy and gray, and I wrapped myself up in it. It was trying to protect me. To shield. And under it we all clung close.
I don’t have the right words to say, so this is my nothing. Today I saw love. I saw strangers smile at each other. Today was scary, and gray and I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. But we made it through today. And that’s all we had to do today.
I love you. And I see you. And I’m with you. No one can take that from us.
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