At the last family zoom meeting, I asked my 8 year old great niece,
“Why are you wearing a mask?”
She flitted about the family furniture, jumping over her 11 year old brother,
prone, propped chin in his palms, in deep lethargy, staring at the television screen, as she cooed,
“I’m protecting my family.”
I glanced quizzically at her mother in the background, who shrugged her shoulders.
“Why are you protecting your family?”
“Because of the corona!”
She continued to hop around the circle of the room, sometimes vanishing off camera to the perimeters,
each round jumping over her catatonic brother.
I tried a different tact.
“Did your teacher tell you to wear a mask at home?
Suddenly her face filled the entire screen as she furrowed her brows, pursed her lips, and
snapped, “No! My teacher is dumb. She doesn’t know anything about the corona. The man with the white hair in the video said to wear a mask to protect your family, so I am.” And her face was gone.
She gets it.
In a dark room, curtains drawn, she, like a firefly in a bottle, lit up my questing heart.
She totally gets it.
She has no fear, no denial, no panic, no past, no selfish idols, no unhinged conspiracy-driven anger drawn from the depths of a harried suburban life fixated on the next cocktail, next workout, next paycheck,
wear the mask
to protect the family.
We are all family.