A Good Thing About Covid-19

girl in red dress playing a wooden blocks
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I have attempted to keep in touch with people that I know during these crazy days of Covid-19. Sometimes I text. Other times I send emails. Now and again I FaceTime or join a Zoom conference. I also make phone calls just to make sure that the people who have been in my life are doing okay.

On a recent day I decided to phone a friend that I have known since I was six years old. We have had long stretches of time during which we got so busy with living that we lost track. Somehow we nonetheless keep circling back to one another. I first met Lynda when my family moved across the street from where she lived. I was not particularly happy to be leaving our old home because I had friends there that I thought I might never see again. I had been pouting on the drive to our new place and seeing the loving house that would be our new digs did nothing to improve my mood. That’s when the Barry family crossed the street to welcome us to Northdale Street.

They were a friendly crew who made us feel immediately welcome to the neighborhood. Lynda, who was my age, was peeking at me from behind her mother and I immediately became curious about her. Mrs. Barry noticed our preoccupation with one another and suggested that we go get acquainted. Somehow it was as though Lynda and I had known each other forever. We began talking and our conversation never really stopped from then on.

We spent every single day together, often laughing and singing on our bikes. We roamed the neighborhood seeking adventure and planning our futures which we assumed would always include being together. We tuned in to the Mickey Mouse Club each afternoon and practiced cartwheels in Lynda’s enormous backyard. I adored everything about her and her family including the nickname that her father gave her, Lindy Lou.

We we two silly little girls who were as happy as can be, so when my parents suddenly announced that we would be moving to California only a little over a year later I was angry and devastated. Somehow I thought they surely should have consulted me before making such an important decision. I cried at the thought of leaving Lynda behind because she seemed to understand me better than anyone ever had.

I missed Lynda every day that we were apart but my family eventually returned to Houston and shortly thereafter my father died. We moved into a house in the same neighborhood as Lynda’s but it was many blocks away from where she resided. We attempted to keep the friendship as wonderful as it had been before but we ended up in different schools and as we grew older we became more and more involved in activities that ate up our time. We always seemed to click right back into our old closeness whenever we had occasion to get together but life just kept insinuating itself into our relationship.

She got married and so did she. We purchased homes in different parts of the city and began our families. From time to time Lynda would invite me to visit for the day and we would have so much fun watching our children play while we gabbed just like we were still those six year old girls. Neither of us were working back then so we had all the time in the world. On some of those charming visits I would stay for hours before reluctantly heading home.

Eventually we both became working women and with that added responsibility we had less and less time for meeting up. Mostly our friendship became confined to occasional phone calls and as the years passed our children grew, our parents died, and we became grandparents. We were more likely to see each other at wakes or funerals but our love for each other never wavered.

Now Lynda lives in another town. We speak of getting together but those plans never seem to materialize. At the moment we are both staying in our homes. Lynda has autoimmune issues that prompt her to be as careful with Covid-19 as possible and I hope to keep the virus from coming into my house and infecting my husband who seems to be a poster boy for those who suffer most from it. Suddenly those long phone calls where we never seem to run out of things to say feel like a lifeline for both of us.

There is something spiritual about the friendships that we forge as children. They are so pure and guileless. Growing up together means that we know all of the good and bad things that have happened to each other. We have shared a journey through all of life’s ups and downs. We know each other without filters and we still like what we see.

I hope to make calling Lynda more of a habit during these days. Talking with her makes me feel young again and seems to be the one good thing about Covid-19. It has slowed us down enough to create time for just being ourselves once again. In those moments I see us as two skinny girls with a whole lifetime of possibilities ahead, finding adventure at every turn. We are quieter now but the joy of being together, even by phone, never seems to dim.


Becoming Profiles In Courage


To the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States of  America:

Dear Sir or Madame:

I recently penned a letter to President Trump offering some unsolicited advice regarding  the kind of behavior that we need from our nation’s chief executive during this unprecedented time of pandemic, social unrest and economic difficulty. It has occurred to me since I offered my views to him that in reality his duty as the president is to be an administrator, not someone enacting rules and laws. Sadly during the tenure of the last several presidents there have been far too many executive actions taken in the absence of actual lawmaking from your chambers. As a result it all too often feels as though we have one person deciding how to approach the nation’s many problems much like a monarch might do while all of you act more like presidential lackeys or critics than actual lawmakers. The phrase “do nothing Congress” seems quite apt in describing the nature of the standoff between republicans and democrats in the legislative branch of government. The result is that most of the country’s pressing problems are being mostly ignored by the men and women elected to represent us. Instead for years now we have endured a patchwork of temporary directives announced by our presidents to repair the damage done by the inactivity on your part.

It has been far too long since I have observed any efforts in Congress to work together for the good of the nation. A while back you attempted to pass a law to reform immigration and you even came close to a compromise that would have created a pathway to citizenship for immigrants and the dreamers but in the end you froze under pressure from your more vocal so called bases and ended up doing nothing. Somehow it seemed better to you to just let the problem fester and grow while President Obama decided to protect the dreamers by executive action and President Trump used his power to divert taxpayer money to building a wall. Years after the moment when a bipartisan immigration bill was on the brink of passing, we still await a permanent solution and waste precious time and money on stop gap measures.

We have watched time after time as you have battled with one another over the budget with ridiculous scenes of a Senator reading from a children’s book to filibuster rather than to work out a deal good for the people. You have special investigative panels seeking information over and over again but in the final analysis they seemingly accomplish nothing. Even in the midst of a pandemic you only seem capable of sending out one time checks to some of the citizens without regard as to who might actually need the assistance at the moment.

You have witnessed the social unrest that has bubbled over in cities and towns and the best you seem to be able to do is sponsor bills declaring Junteenth to be a national holiday. Rival legislation offered in the democrat controlled House and the republican controlled Senate is not even allowed to see the light of day. Efforts to actually do something are ignored without so much as an open discussion that might demonstrate a real intent to create meaningful and systematic change. Instead you appear to compete with one another for the most righteous indignation and pontification. None among you seem to have the courage to actually cross the aisle to insist that everyone work together to legislate the badly needed changes. As usual you talk and talk and talk but get nothing of substance done. Then you complain and worry about presidential overreach depending on which party holds the executive reins at the time. With your abdication of the responsibilities of legislation you have turned the role of the president into a monarchy.

I know that there are fringe groups that exert great control over each of you with the threat of taking away your office if you do not follow their dictates. I would like to suggest, however, that your duty is not to be herded like lambs to the slaughter but to have enough courage and character to do what is necessary for the American people. You should be less beholden to the current thinking of a party or the president and more concerned with passing laws that repair the flawed and broken institutions that are demanding your attention. If you were working in any other capacity you would all be fired for dereliction of duty. When the members of any organization cannot get past the stage of norming and storming that group is doomed to failure.

I respectfully suggest that each and everyone of you read the duties of each branch of government as outlined in the Constitution. Then I recommend that you take back the powers invested in you and begin a process of repairing the ridiculous divisions that have left you unable to address the pressing problems that now face us. There are real people who feel forgotten and ignored who need your help. They can no longer accept your antics as an excuse for inaction. The grandstanding and partisanship and executive ordering needs to stop and that will only happen if you decide to finally do your jobs.

I am weary of knowing what you are going to say and do before you even show up for legislative sessions. You have only two minds, democrat and republican. You are puppets being animated by Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump. Cut those strings and think for yourself, think about this country and its people. Take back your role and begin the work of providing us with the common sense laws that we need. Remind the president that his duty is to enforce the legislation, not to create it through sleight of hand. Let’s see who loves this country enough to become a profile in courage.