Today I Am 38

Sarah Wells

So much has changed in the last six months, but in the year of our Lord and Coronavirus, my dog still sleeps in the cradle of my crossed legs each morning as I drink tea and watch the news with my husband. 

Our lives used to be busy. There was no breathing room, just constant and glorious activity as we filled each minute with movement, and when there was a spare moment, we looked for ways to fill it. For me, it felt like the right and admirable thing to do, to be that social and that busy. We are social creatures, after all; we need people. I love our community and the wide network of friends and companions we are fortunate to do life with here in our small town. 

But then high speed downshifted to stillness. With all of the distractions of obligation and activity lifted, under the veil of all those other commitments there were three children, one husband, one dog, one home. 

There are homes with unfavorable situations and homes where people live alone, where social distancing and stay-at-home orders meant complete and total human isolation. This is, categorically, not good. It is not good for man to be alone. However, in this house, we are not in complete isolation. My current and only community is the one previously so easy to be babysat or left behind.

These are my people, the ones I longed for before they came into my life, the ones I’ve ushered around to help them connect with as many others as possible, the ones I’ve left home to be elsewhere – all good and filling and wonderful places and people and things, but so many people. So many places. So many things. 

In mid-March, Brandon and I got sick with suspected cases of COVID-19. Four and a half months later, I’m finally feeling more myself again, with only lingering symptoms the last couple of days: a headache, slight tingling in my fingers and toes, still a little fatigued but better. I am hoping this is it and there are no more relapses, so we can put this behind us.

But I do not want to leave behind us the sacred space we’ve made. The sudden downshift was hard and stressful, but in the wake of that disruption there’s peace. Plenty of sleep, good sleep, regenerative sleep. And space. Space for card games and books, walks and birdwatching. There’s room to converse, where before there was only room for orders and directives—eat your meal, wash your body, go to sleep, clean your room.

I am 38 now. Lydia will be leaving home in four years, Elvis in six, Henry in nine. These are my people and their time with me is now. I do not want to miss this opportunity to know them better and for them to know us. 

In the midst of the chaos and fear and anxiety swirling in our society, this space we’re in is sanctuary, this summer of boundaries is wide open for long hours with a limited number of loved ones deepening relationship, developing greater intimacy, pouring into one another.

I couldn’t make space on my own so the Coronavirus did it for me. In this physically distanced place there’s so much room for gratitude, clarity, and holiness to fill this small microcosm of our world with glory. I treasure it. I don’t want to miss it. 

I am 38 now. I don’t know if I’ll ever wear makeup again. I don’t know if the dark circles under my eyes will disappear as I continue to recover from COVID. This just might be what you get from me from now on, people. I don’t know when sickness or death will visit our family, or how long we each have with our loved ones.

This day, though, I have this day. This husband. This daughter. These sons. This mom and dad and mom-in-law and dad-in-law. These people in our close circle for this moment. This moment is hard and this moment is holy. Let us be in it, still in it, be still in it. 

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

2 thoughts on “Today I Am 38

  1. Today Roger and I (Kathleen) have been married 10 years and together for almost 19. It is a day to mark for all of us. One of my nieces tested negative for Covid. This family all live apart already even the ones that live in the same town. But we all stay attached by social media, telephone and U.S. mail, yes the old ways. So it is a day of blessings like every other day that God gives us. This is a not to thank you for your thoughts and talk to us this way every once in awhile. You are a pleasure to read.


  2. Wow. Im 59 next month. My son lives w my husband and I- He works at the Clev Clinic, he doesnt live here because he has to, he wants to. We love it and know it cant last forever. My daughter went thru a divorce and came home w our grandson, to get back on her feet again. She has a job but its been years now. Our grandson is 9, We are so very very blessed to be in isolation w our loved ones. Before all this I thought, we all need to do life seperately and get on w life as individuals- was actively pushing towards that end. God obviously had other plans. Im so very grateful for more time w family- they are too. Continue to heal well and thank you for eloquence in a time where so many words come w what we dont need,, fear and anger. We are blessed.


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