A beautiful spring day. The sky is robin’s egg blue. The air smells like fresh cut grass. We cut our sirens on approach, and are driving now through the residential neighborhood. Kids are out on their bikes. There are joggers aplenty. Nearly every house has someone out beautifying their yard. Neighbors talk and laugh with one another. Optimism abounds. In just a matter of days, the state will begin phase one of the opening, but in this neighborhood you can already see a future that looks just like the past. A return to glorious normalcy.
People pause and watch us drive slowly past before returning to their conversations.
Several blocks away in this residential neighborhood a man and his wife sit holding hands on the front steps of the home they have lived in for thirty-five years. Red and yellow tulips line the driveway. There is a basketball hoop above the garage door and an old swing set in the backyard. The man, his eyes wet, looks at the woman with concern. Her hands shake. A man in a bright yellow hazmat suit wearing a gas mask stands over them, checking the woman’s pulse saturation. It is 84. The couple tested positive for COVID three days ago, and have been on self-quarantine, but her fever grew worse and she became short of breath so he walked slowly to the phone in the kitchen and dialed 911.
“I made a mistake,” she will tell me on the way to the hospital, her hands and voice trembling. They went to a party two weeks before where no one wore their masks.
Now as we leave the scene she looks out the ambulance’s back window at the house where she has raised her family. She may be wondering if she will ever see her husband, her family, her home, her neighborhood again.