That may have been my last day

Jeannine Erickson

Today in week two of self-quarantine I came to the sudden realization. That I may have had the last day with my kids, my students. I felt myself on the verge of tears. And as I write this letter I finally let them fall free. My first instinct is to give into the sadness. The fear. What if nothing changes? I’ll be honest. This time has been tough on my mental health and my sense of normalcy and challenged me in ways I had never anticipated. 

As I’m sure my students are feeling, this wasn’t in the plan. But what this quarantine time has taught me is that now more than ever is the time to dig my heels in. Not only for my own sanity but for the students I serve. 

This letter is for y’all. 

I am so proud of you. 

You never cease to amaze and inspire me and it is you that in these times of darkness push me to choose the light. And let me be transparent. Choosing to face one’s fears instead of shy away from them is no small feat. As we navigate these uncharted waters now is the moment that we must all secure our own oxygen masks before we help others.  Whatever self care looks like or means for you, be kind and patient with yourself.  

I know, I know easier said than done, right? But try we must!

To my colleagues that support the Writers’ Room and those who helped with the last minute food shelf. Thank you. I am indebted to you. 

Finally to my 826 MSP team, Americorps cohort, family, and friends. Thank you for continuing to root for me. Even in the times when I forget to root for myself. We will get through this. Rest assured that this isn’t goodbye, but until we meet again. To close I leave you with the words of the late and great Toni Morrison as it is still womxn’s hxstory* (*x in place to letters that would suggest a gender conformity in solidarity with non-gender conforming and LGBTQ folks) month.

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”