Today we got toilet paper! We weren’t quite at the point of gruesome desperation yet, but it was a growing concern. We’ve been trying to avoid Walmart as much as possible by going to other, smaller places like Dollar General and even our local gas station (which, believe it or not, has a nice selection of meat). After striking out pretty much everywhere else, we decided to brave the Walmart. I was delighted by what I saw. I know our town doesn’t represent all of the country and our Walmart doesn’t represent every store, but I found the customers to be stressed but cordial and the workers to be phenomenal. They were calm. They were friendly. And as a smiling teenage employee handed me my two allowed packages of toilet paper, I kid you not, I got a little misty. It was one in a never-ending series of bizarre moments. Waiting in a Black Friday line not for a cheap television but for toilet paper. After we arrived home, the doorbell rang. One of our good friends who had heard about our toilet paper dilemma delivered a package to us from their overflow.
The days seem incredibly long. Are there always this many hours in a day? I want to be sensitive. I know that not everyone is in the situation my family is in. I know that for many these days are filled with chaos and hustle. This week was our scheduled spring break – which will now be extended for the kids until at least April 6. We cancelled our plans to go camping in Branson this week because of the combination of horrible weather and, you know, a global pandemic. So today we worked on puzzles. We watched old Big Ten basketball games. We shopped for toilet paper. We joined the millions of Americans who decided this week to start cleaning out their storage room. Tonight I made what is normally our favorite camp dinner – Silver Dollar City Skillet. Then we all watched The Princess Bride together. It was nice.
Today I was complaining to Tara about not being able to yet see the end of this ordeal. I know we are just in the beginning in many ways, and it just doesn’t seem like there’s an end in sight. I’ll admit it. I was indulging in some whining.
My wife, who is stronger and wiser than me, has little time for whining. Whining is a waste of time and energy. She told me, “You are so concerned about seeing the end that you are failing to see the middle.” I was dumbstruck because of course she’s right. These are hard times, and there will be harder times ahead for many of us. But this also is an opportunity to create new kinds of memories, sturdy memories that will last a lifetime. I pray that I won’t let my panic and impatience cause me to miss it.