Bernard.

When Matt and I lived in Grenada during med school, we had a cab driver who used to drive us anywhere we needed to go because we didn’t have a car. We didn’t leave campus much because Matt was always studying, but when we did, we always called Bernard. And we got to know him pretty well over the course of those years. Recently I’ve been thinking about him a lot. We haven’t spoken to him since we left the island, and it’s been years since he’s crossed my mind, but for some reason he’s been popping into my head a lot lately. I heard a song the other day on the radio that he used to play every time we rode with him. Angel by Shaggy. Ha! I heard it and I swear I was transported back to that place and time. Then, last night I lay awake and there he was again, invading my thoughts and squashed between my grocery list and my obsessive worrying about the dreaded return to school plan.

“God willing” is what I heard. Bernard used to end any statement that gave even the teensiest hint at anticipation or expectation of the future with it. Sometimes I’d ask what he was eating for dinner later because local food was something we often talked about on our rides. He’d tell me whatever he’d be having and then add “God willing.” I’d think, what do you mean God willing?? Of course you’re gonna go home and have dinner with your family. You just told me a minute ago what your wife was cooking today when you left this afternoon for work. Why wouldn’t you? What’s going to stop you? It wasn’t the the phrase that confused me but the strict use of it when it came to anything at all taking place in the future.

It’s not that I’d never heard anyone say it before. I’m a Christian, so it’s something I’m accustomed to hearing. I’ve used it many times myself, but always in more off in the distant future type musings or wedged between some of my sarcastic humor.

By the way, if you’re still reading, I have to be honest, I don’t know why I’m talking about any of this. Maybe it’s just to say that I’ve lived many places and I feel like I’ve lived equally as many lives. I’ve lived in Detroit, NYC, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Grenada, Cleveland, now Florida, and that’s not counting the two years spent during my childhood traveling the entire United States. I’ve been a student, hair stylist, child actress, apprentice, writer, wife, and mother. I see now that everyone I’ve met along the way has been woven in the intricate pattern of my life and has served to teach me something. In 2011-2012 when I knew Bernard, I never could’ve predicted what 2020 would bring, or that it would include a global pandemic, but I can see myself being prepared for it now as I look back. Almost winking at me, like, “Heyyyyy, don’t take for granted those mundane things like your physical health, mental health, or even what you’re going to eat for dinner.”

Nothing is guaranteed the way it used to be or maybe ever was or maybe, more correctly, how I thought it was. I envy my 27 year old mindset of not thinking anything can go wrong, but my 37 year old brain knows every single scenario that can. Ughh.

During the last five months, the pandemic has made me more reflective over my life as a whole. Maybe it’s the time forced to stay still and stay home. The time spent not immersed in whatever book I’m working on, which tends to take up all my energy and brain power, always occupying my thoughts even when I’m not in front of the computer screen. Nope, I haven’t written one page since this thing started. The time not spent rushing the kids out the door to school or rushing to get groceries while they’re at school or rushing to make it to the car line to pick them up from school. Just staying still has been uncomfortable, boring, frustrating, enraging, reflective, comical, ludicrous, and maybe exactly what I needed. Maybe it’s what all of us needed?

What I hope is that many years down the road this will also feel like another one of the lives I’ve lived. That I can reflect on it and talk about that time we all lived through a pandemic. I hope tell my grand children about it when they roll their eyes and look at me like I’m crazy for hoarding Lysol wipes, toilet paper, and paper towel in my garage. Because I’ll for sure still be doing that. I’m in too deep with this stockpiling mode.

I hope. God willing.

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