I have been thinking about home of late.
I suspect that it is normal for someone who is currently 4,829 miles away from his home in New Jersey to think of home.
No doubt this is exacerbated, when you have been forced to self-quarantine for the past 14 days because of a raging pandemic whose end is a pin prick of light at the end of a very long tunnel. Or where your understanding of the native language is rudimentary at best.
Or wondering, during long walks and short naps, what the true meaning of the word “home” is these days as we are being challenged by a new reality that brings us near constant images of fear, death and despair.
It made me recall the black and white lithograph that hung about my mother’s desk. It depicted a war zone with an active battle going on but in the middle is a home on a hill surrounded by a fence with a happy family living a secure life without a care for the war raging around them. That was how my Mom viewed her role as a mother, grandmother and friend. To provide sanctuary, love and enough room to be yourself free of the war raging outside.
I always loved that lithograph even while my sister detested it. What we could agree on is my mothers idea of home. A place where you were always welcome, always celebrated, always loved, place of warmth and safety that existed until she died when I was only 744 months old.
I have been very fortunate. I have been able to be a part of or help create a number of homes as an adult.
I live most of the year and my wife part of the year in our town home in Chatham. It is a community surrounded by woods and bordered by a river close to wear I grew up. It has felt like home since we moved in and since then we have been blessed with almost all happy memories. It is a place where we have always felt safe, warm, celebrated and loved.
My wife lives most of the year and I live part of the year in our home in Jardim Do Itanhanga in Rio. It is a community surrounded by woods and walls both around the community but our home as well. It is infused with the Brazilian sense of hospitality and it is a place where my wife has always made sure that I felt safe, warm, celebrated and loved.
But this morning my thoughts of home were, like everything else, being shaped by the pandemic. It occurred to me that as my wife and I scrubbed ourselves clean after a short foray (the first in two weeks) to the outside world how fragile our sense of safety had become in our current reality. That as much as we would like to protect ourselves from Covid 19, as many measures as we can take, that nothing is fool proof and that we worry about exposure almost constantly. Our sense of wellbeing has been pierced and will likely never be the same.
I think that is natural when something you cherish or hold dear is damaged to try to figure out who is responsible for this loss. I also think that it is easy to see the missteps, blunders, gaffs, and ham-handed ways the Trump administration has handled this crisis.
When two years ago they ran a pandemic simulation and discovered we were ill prepared they did nothing.
When they fired the NSC staffers in charge of managing our response to pandemics it was clear they didn’t understand the threat it could played which caused much delay, confusion, illness and death.
When the science community warned them to prepare for an onslaught from Covid 19 back in January they sat on their hands and said don’t worry which caused much delay, confusion, illness and death.
When the intelligence community begged them to take it seriously in February then said don’t be reactionary and did nothing which caused much delay, confusion, illness and death.
It was not to mid March that they began to take the virus seriously. But even then, their daily briefings were full of wishes not sciences, thoughts not facts, and self-aggrandizement instead of honest appraisals that could bring about positive action as opposed to back slapping which caused much delay, confusion, illness and death.
I find it sadly ironic that the party that put family values first has done more to destroy our sense of home..the feeling of warmth and safety…than anything that has happened to us in the 244 years of the republic.
I realized the sense of homesickness I have been feeling these last few days has not been for our home in Chatham, although I miss it and Rosie profoundly, but I am homesick for the days when families could gather without fear and with love. A time where fear was not the constant companion and where you needed little courage to leave home.
I hope that we will return to that time soon. I hope that the American electorate sees clearly the choices in front of it and chooses to fire the guy currently occupying the Oval Office as he has destroyed our sense of home.
In the meantime, we can remember times like these.
And know we will overcome.