We received this postcard in the mail today and thought that I should keep it.
I want to put this with my other scraps of memories from my life to remember that, in 2020, when I was 41.75 years old, there was a pandemic with deep and expansive impact on individuals and societies. It hit during a year when Ramadan, Pesach, and Easter aligned. That year we had a 90-day extension on paying taxes, stopped being concerned about finding legal street parking, completed the U.S. Census, and worried about friends/families beyond local and international borders, while worrying that our entire industry (our life’s work) may be too fragile to withstand a new world order.
I want to remember that, in 2020, this nation had an administration that perpetuated this president’s extreme narcissism and need for credit. A man satiated only by applause and thanks wherever he can get them: campaign rallies, press conference speakers’ introductions, and Fox News. The point of this postcard was the information on the back, clearly written by CDC officials and not a word by him. I’ve seen propaganda before.
I want to remember not being able to remember the last time I washed my hair or wore a bra. These were days when we shared mighty close quarters with some other humans, but 6ft ridges and virtual valleys from other humans. There were days when my eyes and wrists were pained from extensive and obsessive screen time.
I want to remember this hope that the threat will pass and we will be together again soon. Soon, as in just another week or two of sheltering in place. Respecting a quarantine in the hopes of saved lives, medical advancement, and fundamental societal changes for the good.
I also want to remember honestly the dread that is currently sitting on my chest, forcing me to need to remind myself to breathe. This dread is sitting on my hope. And I’m watching my hope chest rise and fall.
I want to remember that March 24, 2020 is the eight-year anniversary of some local heroes and I shaving our heads for childhood cancer treatment and research. March 24, 2020 was also the day that Ahmed, whom I had the honor of knowing while we was a patient at 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital of Egypt, passed way. May he rest in a loving peace. I want to remember him.
I want to remember that queasy feeling of an online image search for “hope chests” looking like a scroll of coffins. Just now snapping out of that one.
I want to remember the need to manufacture masks and the TV shows donating the masks they had stored for props. I want to remember the guilt of having a box of masks in my bathroom cabinet from awhile ago, and wearing one mask during a questioningly-essential neighborhood outing to buy ice cream. I want to remember this along with the memory of a friend making sure I had a mask to protect me in Tahrir Square, and me keeping that mask in my tangible memory box from Cairo including wedding cards and 2014 El Sisi propaganda.
My mother had a hope chest (wedding gift). In it, she saved several things including her wedding dress and veil, report cards, marriage certificate, family passports from our 1985 trip to Spain that we thought would be our only international trip, a couple important newspapers from the 1960s, and a flyer for a nuclear disarmament march that we found in my great grandmother’s scrapbook.
I remember Mom and I laughing brightly when we found that flyer. It was such an odd thing for my great grandmother to keep, based on her life story. But I am understanding it now. Hope chests can withstand something sitting on them for quite awhile — they are sturdy — but hold memories but need to be aired out on occasion. They hold memories of all different kinds in order to remind us to move hopeward. Or to sit in hope, on our couches.
End note: I feel my Mom like a parachute ever since she passed. And at this moment, I feel her lifting me away from the laptop and towards the shower. Self care, she urges.