Everything I Learned About Family From Quarantine
When a difficult season paves way for lost intimacy
During our second month of quarantine, my endlessly patient, devoted parents celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary. We let go of our yearly traditions, as with many other things, of celebrating with the rest of the family. My sister and brother, both married, checked in via video call. We ordered take out. They both watched their K-Drama until their eyes could no longer stay open. It was simple, increasingly familiar but carried weight.
We have never had this much time together. We hardly stay in the same space. My mother and I rent an apartment near our respective workplaces while my dad stays at home to take care of his small business. Our time together before sheltering in place was always short and rushed. Sundays were always precious, knowing we had the full day together but we also dreaded it; it meant driving to another city before midnight so we wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of a two-hour commute in the morning. These small sacrifices had to be made, and we couldn’t complain.
It is with privilege that I can say that I’m happy to be home with my family—and not have to worry about everyday essentials like electricity, food and water. During the disorienting workday, I hear my mother discussing some law mumbo jumbo with her colleagues I can’t quite wrap my head around. In between meetings, my Mama absentmindedly gives me a peck on the cheek when she sees me typing away, my brows furrowed while I do my best to meet a deadline. My silly father dances to music I can’t hear while he does another batch of laundry; I secretly film him and send it to our family group chat. At night, we watch another movie about race, educating ourselves about the repulsive history of America.
My God has been teaching me a lot of things these days, mostly what it means to be present and serve my parents; I do forget they’re growing older. These things I will miss when everything goes back to “normal.” I’m trying to remember each candid moment because I never know how much of these I have left.
Throughout this disorienting period, I’ve discovered very few things to be certain, my family is one of them. To be here in this season with the company of those I love most is a gift I don’t take for granted.
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Photography Elisa Aquino
Art Alexandra Lara