“Mom, has something like this ever happened to you?”

Clara looked up from the snowy tire ruts where she was struggling to keep her cross country skis.

“You mean like Coronavirus?”


I immediately thought of Sept. 11, 2001, when the planes flew into the towers, and tried to recall how I felt. I remembered the way students gathered around televisions in panic, news blaring around the clock, the intensity of uncertainty.

“No,” I told her. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. Or felt quite like this.”

She nodded.

“Everyone keeps freaking out. And when they freak out, I freak out.”

Her face looked tight — much older than her seven years on this planet. Older than last week, than yesterday.

“But if everyone is calm?”

“Then, I feel calm,” she said.

She knocked some snow off her skis and her brother, Otto, bellered from his backpack.

“Want down!” he insisted. “Want down!”

I patted him, reached for my stash of candy — “inspiration” for staying in his seat — and looked at Clara again.

“What about when you’re outside?” I asked.

She looked at the creek as the sound of water bubbled up through the pines.

“Calm,” she said.

She skied off down the road, head down, feet “shush-shushing” through the sticky spring snow. I handed Otto a sucker and followed, singing to him as we went:

O mothers let’s go down
Come on down, don’t you wanna go down?
Come on mothers, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray