Hold the Door

Hold the Door

When was the last time you were running in the rain and cold, perhaps loaded down with packages or groceries or unwieldy children’s art projects, and someone held the door open for you? Maybe they held it for quite a while while you shuffled along. Maybe it was a bit awkward. Maybe they themselves got a bit wet waiting for you. Maybe they did it anyway. Either way, you probably felt good.


This story came to me from a community member whose children attend an area elementary school. As I wrote in today’s comic, the principal at this school greets students every day by holding the building door open for them. As a former PreK-6 teacher, I remember the days I had door duty and it was always a fun and exciting start to even the longer days; the children were always happy to see me, to see their friends, to be back in the place where they felt loved and secure and where routines and predictability reigned. That’s the way it was in the school where I taught. It’s also the way it is in this principal’s school. So when the children were not coming to school anymore, she did the next best thing and made daily videos to “hold the door” for the children, metaphorically but also emotionally, until they could all be back together again. Every single day. And that is how hope works: holding the door open, even if it takes a really long time and we get very, very wet waiting for that last person to come shuffling across the parking lot, is an affirmation of the value of that last straggler and the belief that we continue to invest in the future and one another no matter what. Hold the door. We are all coming back in.

Of course I thought about all the ways we hold the door for each other, both before this chaotic and scary time and now in the midst of social distancing, lockdowns, and sheltering-in-place. This is quiet work, barely visible to many, and hard to sustain in an asynchronous and disjointed online reality. As Craig Smith @ColumbiaSurgery writes, “the rapture of action” can be a relief in these days, when staying at home seems frustratingly inadequate (spoiler: it’s not). But teachers and parents and families keep mushing just as hard. The emails and phone calls and messages and videos from the people out there doing what they can to connect with and feed and sustain the most vulnerable among us are the signal fires that break up this long night and will help us find our way when it ends.

How are those around you holding the door? Send me your stories at sallyann@umass.edu

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