And Life Goes On

It was a warm Memorial Day, warm and muggy. We tried to make it seem like a holiday, like a day to remember. In these work at home COVID days, though, the at-home days blend, and  that can be a challenge.

But we worked outside, and then we barbecued some burgers.

That night, we all piled into Mark’s car and took a ride down by the river.

While we were riding, George Floyd was dying.


I heard about it the next morning. I had to read the article twice.

“What?” I said. “WHAT???”

“Yeah,” said Mark. “Yeah.”

How do you even process something like that?


But my students had submitted their analysis papers, and the papers needed to be graded. The bathroom floor ached to be mopped, and I had a long-awaited hair cut appointment. In the afternoon, I had a tele-meeting.

I went about my day. I enjoyed getting four months’ worth of scruff sheared from my head. The meeting was productive. The papers were amazingly well-written.

The bathroom floor preened itself and gleamed.

And the little voice kept demanding attention.

“WHAT????” it asked, plaintively. “What?!!!!”


And the protests started; of course, there were protests. But in some places—some close by me—there was breaking and fires and looting, too.

“Well,” people said. “THAT’s not right.” And the damage became the focus.

I did load after load of laundry. I baked cookies, a special recipe: flat and crisp edged, these cookies are meant to sandwich a big shmear of ice cream. We liked those cookies, and we liked those ice cream sandwiches.

I inventoried the freezers, and I started thinking about what kind of meat we might eat in the days of COVID shortages. How will this change our cooking, I wondered?

“What?!?!!” said that little voice.

“I know, I know,” I answered it. “But I don’t know what to do except keep on doing what I’m doing.”


There are events that don’t get national traction. My Facebook friend Kim posted an article about police in Fayetteville, North Carolina, who knelt before protesters in a show of support and sorrow. Houston police chief Art Acevedo went out and marched with the protesters in his city. Others did, too.

In Mount Vernon, Ohio, my friend Kathie took part in a protest on the square.

“All ages were present,” she wrote. “Families with young children, teens, people in their twenties, elderly in wheelchairs and with walkers. They sat on the square. Some had signs.”

And the Mount Vernon police, on that hot day, came in with coolers. They handed out water bottles, dripping with condensation, and they stood with the protesters.


On June fourth, my friend Terri would have been 65, would have retired from her life-changing domestic violence work, would have been broken-hearted at the death of George Floyd,—would have, if she hadn’t died, suddenly and heartbreakingly, from cancer a little over a year ago. I started the day thinking of Terri and her family and sadness seeped into all the porous places.

But the papers still needed, darn it, to be graded, and assignments had to be written. I had a tele-meeting in the afternoon that went really well; I went back to grading while chicken roasted in the oven on a day that had a roasting sun, too.

And then I got a text from my friend Sharon.

“I just stood for the 8 minutes 46 seconds with the congregation,” she wrote. “So powerful.”

While I went about my everyday in Ohio, mourners gathered and remembered in Minnesota. In New York State, my sweet friend Sharon stood with them, and she remembered, too.


And life goes on. Of course, it does; I still have to go out and get the newspaper, empty the dishwasher, wrestle the vacuum out of the closet, pour detergent into the washer.

Life goes on. It goes forward.

But it doesn’t have to go on in the same complacent, destructive old way.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

“What?” asks that little voice, and I know it’s time for me to do something, time for me to answer. Time to find the best way forward.

How will we answer? What will we do? When the outcry dies down, and life again settles in, how will we be different?

My friends, can we talk about that?