through the cracks

March 13th, 2020

Last night I was dreaming when my mother spoke. I heard her calling my name in the way only your mother says it, the way you’ll never forget, and I woke from a menacing darkness to that single unmistakable sound, “Karen.” It’s been so long. I was so relieved.

At that very instant I heard the mechanical voice on my phone saying, “Message from Georgia Miller.”

I’ve taken to leaving my creaky old cell phone on the nightstand the last couple of weeks, when the first hairline cracks appeared in this thing we call the world. She might need me in the middle of the night, was my thinking, or first thing in the morning. Perhaps I knew what was coming. Not even two weeks ago my daughter was auditioning for the chance to spend next semester studying Shakespeare in London. Oh, I know how lucky she’s been. I know how favored. It was a lark, a dream. It was yesterday. But today it is nearly impossible to conceive of a next semester, or spending three months in London, or London, for that matter. She called that day to say she loved her life and that she was so fulfilled. Really, she said “fulfilled,” and hearing it, so was I. On Monday her college announced the temporary end of in-person classes, today they told her they wouldn’t resume for weeks or maybe months. She is coming home for how long we don’t know. Who, on this day, could say they know a thing?

My whole life is falling apart, she says. I don’t argue.

I console her tears and shock by saying this is a time like nothing else and never before, except perhaps a world war, which most of us who think we know it all only know from a book. I am so sorry for her and her generation, which could be another generation of lost time and lost chances, made great by their shared trauma, extolled for their resilience. I’m sorry for everyone, because every one of us will lose something or someone dear, a loss incalculable and irreversible.

It is not nothing, you know, this disaster. It is not an accident. It is a call, a bell, a beacon, and yes, a wake-up from the arrogance and ignorance of thinking we know what’s possible and what’s not. We have been sleeping for a long time.

Packing up to come home for what used to be the blink of a spring week—a frolic, a folly—she told me she would need to bring the big suitcase to hold all her books and sadly, all her shoes. It’s the shoes that make it real, that bring it home.

What will be, will be. It will be hard. It will get worse. And one day there will be a call that shatters the dark, and you will wake as if from a dream, so relieved that the night has passed and that you are loved.

Dear friends, I’m glad you are here.

Photo by Umberto on Unsplash


  1. I love you.

    Comment by marcea pugliese — March 13, 2020 @ 6:45 am

  2. Dear Maezen,

    I’m so sorry about Georgia’s return . . . it seems all of our dreams and hopes are changing and transmuting by the moment . . . I keep learning to LET, even as let grows more challenging, sometimes frightening. . . .
    One thing I have found to be of great comfort is to do something for someone else . . . here in my small town, we are starting to rally around those less fortunate; donate to our multicultural center and food bank so that no meals will be missed by children suddenly forced to stay home or whose parents lose their livelihood. It’s amazing the sense of relief it gives to help someone else “bear up” as the darkness cracks and crackles around us.
    I send you love and light through the darkness, my always beloved teacher.

    Comment by E. J. Gore — March 13, 2020 @ 6:49 am

  3. I woke to a cardinal singing and drove by the lake to the sunrise…we are but a moment Am practicing extra kindness to all of creation. The only thing I can think to do that feels productive. Thanks for this.

    Comment by Joan Diamond — March 13, 2020 @ 6:52 am

  4. I am glad you are here, too. And very glad that Georgia will have the calm of your voice and presence and words. In a time of “social distancing” let us not forget to pull those we love closer. It matters, these beautiful connections. And we need the reassurance of touch ♡

    Comment by Bonnie Rae — March 13, 2020 @ 6:55 am

  5. Comment by BK Larson — March 13, 2020 @ 6:55 am

  6. Oh, dear lady ~ This. My daughter, too, is away at University of Michigan, in an anthro Ph.D. program and, she too, is closed through the end of this semester. Summer field work in France? Who knows? She somehow has to teach her dears (she loves her undergrads) online and is planning sneaky gatherings with her cohort.

    I miss her so. Blessings to you and all those you love. To everyone.

    Comment by Cathlyne Talevich — March 13, 2020 @ 7:32 am

  7. Thank you
    Thank you

    Comment by Jane Bergquist — March 13, 2020 @ 7:35 am

  8. I’m so glad you are here too, Maezen. Always the reassuring message. We are not alone. As long as we have each other we are not alone.

    Comment by Connie Assadi — March 13, 2020 @ 7:44 am

  9. I’m tearing up as I read this today. Thank you for seeing clearly. May our hearts be courageous….

    Comment by Kathy — March 13, 2020 @ 8:19 am

  10. I am so sorry that Georgia has had to put some of her dreams on hold for now. This morning while I sat, I listened to the birds and thought of you. I am grateful my family is safe for now and I am focused on seeing the good that is coming from this tragedy—connection, slowing down, care and compassion for those less fortunate. Companies forgiving and foregoing to put people over profits (at least in the short term). Massive upheaval is happening and when the destruction will end is anyone’s guess but perhaps this will be the reset we need to find a new way of being in this world (which is really the old way of being in this world). Sending so much love.

    Comment by Michelle — March 13, 2020 @ 8:36 am

  11. I’ve been thinking about Georgia and you. Your words are, as ever, gentle company. Much love to you.

    Comment by Kathryn Harper — March 13, 2020 @ 9:44 am

  12. I love you too.

    Comment by Simone — March 13, 2020 @ 10:01 am

  13. Ah, dear one. I always love it when your words jump into my in-box. As I continue my WWII letters project, and wonder about what it was like to live in such times of uncertainty, disruption, and anxiety, I am increasingly (and suddenly) becoming aware. Life has cycled through these crises since the beginning of time. It has skipped our generation in this widespread way, and now it is our turn. I’m sad that our young people will–like our parents’ generation–be hit so hard at the brink of what should be the most exciting time of life. And, like all previous generations, we will all get through it. I’m excited to see, some time in the future, what good we will make of it. We have definitely needed an attitude adjustment.

    Comment by Gretchen Staebler — March 13, 2020 @ 10:30 am

  14. Dear Karen,
    I am so glad you are here as well and sharing your story in this crisis. I am very sorry for your daughter’s loss right now. I hope at the end of this that her dreams will come true.

    Always enjoy your posts.
    Much love to you & yours

    Comment by Shawn — March 13, 2020 @ 12:27 pm

  15. And to look at things from a different perspective. That there is joy in bringing the kids home. And for the kids to find comfort in the arms of a mom.

    Comment by Mary Ann — March 13, 2020 @ 12:28 pm

  16. At the end of the day, nothing is as boring as a life that goes to plan. Tell your daughter that.

    Comment by Simone — March 13, 2020 @ 1:32 pm

  17. thank you–much needed encouragement. be well.

    Comment by penny — March 13, 2020 @ 2:12 pm

  18. Beautiful

    Comment by ELIZABETH A AQUINO — March 13, 2020 @ 9:22 pm

  19. At 21 I got sacked from my first job after graduating from University. I truly thought my life had ended – nothing good would ever happen again.I did not think that I was worthy of re-employment ever again. I wept.Slowly I recovered, was offered a new job a long way from home. Despite serious apprehensions (read total fear) I went – strongly encouraged by my mother to go. I went. I fell in love – with the job, the city; my future husband and with me. 38 years later I now have the wisdom and experience to know that everything changes and good things are just around the corner. All the old proverbs apply: it’s darkest before dawn; one door closes another opens. We just need to keep faith with the way.

    Comment by Debbie — March 14, 2020 @ 7:47 am

  20. And I’m so glad you are here. Thank you for your posts. Virtual hugs from Nova Scotia to you and the Dew Drop Sangha. Sheri

    Comment by Sheri — March 14, 2020 @ 8:29 am

  21. Love and peace to you and your family … Thank you, Karen, for sharing this and helping to bring us all together in a positive note for the future. The world is and has been becoming one and we all need to heal each other.

    Comment by Valarie A. Dunlevy — March 14, 2020 @ 8:58 am

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