One year ago, our world shut down. We went home. Schools and stores closed. We lost jobs and loved ones, went mad with loneliness, took risks to help others, waited on God, forestalled futures. We learned to fear. What we didn’t always realize: We were together in isolation, and our many private moments would tell a story of discovery and resilience, and of an indelible mark made upon us.
There was no room at the front of the bus, so the woman slipped in through the back door. “Excuse me,” she murmured, squeezing on board as the bus lurched and the people swayed. When it crossed the Tobin Bridge, she looked past her reflection in the window to watch the city before dawn, shining towers over dark water.
She breathed in, she breathed out. She thought nothing of it.
Later, across the state, an old woman looked in a beauty parlor mirror and smiled. A pregnant woman sat in a crowded restaurant. A pack of teenagers huddled close and howled with laughter.
None of them yet knew — most of us didn’t, in those early days of March one year ago — that they stood at the edge of the life we knew and were about to cross to another one, dark and unfamiliar and cut off. It was still possible then to catch a stranger’s eye and share a moment. We had not yet retreated into our own private worlds to wait it out and watch the waves of suffering and fear crash against our windows.
At a downtown lunch, two men shook hands.
On Cape Cod, a husband came home.
On the grand stage of the Cutler Majestic Theatre, an opera singer strode out into the bright lights to deliver his first line: “In quella selva e morte.” In this forest lurks death.