The Last Day of Normal

Below is the full, unedited text of a story describing the experiences of one parent during the Covid era. Please contact Covid Stories Archive if you would like to use or reproduce this essay, in whole or in part, for your research or writing. Also, please consider sharing your own stories for preservation in our archive.

Our kids are competitive swimmers, so a lot of our life revolves around swim team, swim practices and swim meets. My son had qualified for a USA Swimming Sectional meet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in March of 2020. It was my daughter’s birthday weekend so we all went. The Covid narrative was in the air, but it hadn’t really launched. Nothing was shut down, but the feeling was very eerie. It was a good time and a good meet, but by the next weekend everything was canceled.

Fort Lauderdale was our last semblance of normalcy. State meets were cancelled, practices were cancelled, life was cancelled. People said a couple of weeks. But I had a bad feeling. Nothing made sense…this is not what free societies do. By May, summer swim league was cancelled. I went to the neighborhood pool and wept for our kids. I knew by then that things were going to get out of control.

The worst part about it was that as proms, graduations, camps, funerals and weddings were all cancelled, I knew it was for nothing. The nothingness haunts me to this day. It was months before swim practices opened again in Georgia. The rules were insane and inconsistent. Masks to get it the building, but not to be in the building. Kids were six feet apart to appease the health department. Meets were small and spectators were banned. It was 18 months before we would be allowed to watch our kids swim in person again. These are months that we cannot get back. When I look at my kids’ before and after Covid pictures, it hits me how much time has passed. It hits me how much time has been lost…how much we have missed of their time with us.

There is no forgiving the United States government or the people that did all this. A lot of hope and optimism in the future is gone for us. Even though things are so much more normal, what has happened to us can never be undone. What has happened to our kids can never be fixed. And the haunting truth is that we would have been better off doing nothing at all. They stole our time…our joy…our spirits. They stole our kids’ memories and childhoods. They will not be forgiven.

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