By Lauryl Hebenstreit
Cross legged and trembling on a grey, too-hard sofa at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s library, I precariously perched my laptop on my lopsided knee. I opened a word document and began to type: “So I don’t think this is terribly necessary but I am just going to begin writing things down since I’m living in the midst of a pandemic right now.”
I continued with: “Today is March 12, 2020. Classes will be cancelled from March 16th until the end of our spring break which is March 29th. After that, our classes will be online for the rest of the semester.”
The document I opened and began word vomiting onto still exists untouched. My words on that page are bruises, tears, scars of a time I can’t ever forget—how could I?
“Italy is completely shut down and accounts there are terrifying. Last I saw, 100 people were dying of COVID-19 per hour.”
Did I know that would soon be us? That I would soon be unable to hug my grandmother for over a year, that I would cry a million tears, that I would gnash my teeth at the loss of human life, that I would lose touch with my socialization? No, nothing could have prepared me for the time that lied ahead of March 12th.
Distinctly, I remember how loud the world was that day and the weeks to follow. The cacophony of caskets, the nauseating news and the voices of vulnerable students was unbearable. I was willing to do anything to escape it.
In isolation however, the silence I so longed for was deafening.
So now, cross legged and momentarily content, I am overwhelmed by the sound of laughter that races down the halls of the new Lutheran Center. My ears are ringing from voices I have not heard in eleven months. The pandemic has taken much from me and more from others, but I could not anticipate that it would bring sensory deprivation to the sound of humans living.
But unlike March 12th, I do not wish for silence. Though my ears may be ringing and my mind may be scattered, I deeply need the love that springs from proximity to human beings in all their oddities. March 12th soon approaches again, and in this endless winter we have a long way to go. I am still filled with palpable rage, but an abundance of hope in the goodness of human beings skips alongside the rage. And I believe, one day, my legs will cease their trembling and even if for a moment, the cold of a never ending March will end.