Tiny Coronavirus Stories: ‘What will the next generation say?’

Reader-submitted stories of the COVID-19 pandemic, in no more than 100 words. Read past stories hereSubmit your own here.


This morning I was working for a long-time client, an elderly widowed woman. A breezy, uneasy day. Usually embraced by a hug and a “glad to have you back,” today I stood at the edge of the driveway and yelled a quick “how are you,” but no sign of embrace, physical or emotional. A sadness rushed over me as I pulled last year’s rotted stems from the recently thawed tundra, the same rush we’ve all felt in many parts of our lives, a disconnect. Underneath, as layers of leaves were removed, budding stems. Underneath, hope.

— Jack Mapstone (Stillwater, Minnesota)

Gloomy lilac skeletons come once more.

* * *

What matters?

My family’s tradition, second-night Seders. No family this year but the Seder plate is prepared: lamb bone, egg, charoset, bitter herbs, karpas, lettuce. Salt water. Three matzoh. Wine. And…the Haggadah? Not the simplistic Maxwell House. Not the Manischewitz version with more God mentions than this agnostic can handle. The one my dad and I carefully edited, maintaining the essential meaning, allowing all gathered to thoughtfully, joyfully participate. Two years since he died. Three since a family Seder. What matters? I hear him questioning, challenging us. Freedom. Freedom from slavery matters, for all creatures and for our planet.

— Melissa Kaplan (Lansing, Michigan)

The family Seder plate

* * *

We are we and the DRC

My colleague asked if anyone had an empty home for a medical couple and their baby returning from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, so they could do two weeks quarantine. We circulated a callout. I didn’t know who was coming or where they’d stay. But on a virtual work call they appeared and told a harrowing story – shortage of personal protective equipment, causing moral distress for humanitarians wanting to respond, tensions rising, planning for palliative care versus survival for a number of coronavirus patients. They also told of gratitude for colleagues, home, and hope – local mask-making, grit, the human drive to help heal, anywhere, everywhere.

— Carol Devine (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Brazzaville, Kinshasa, Congo River. Courtesy: NASA, International Space Station, June 6, 2003.

* * *

On all other nights

We greet each other at the virtual Seder table – in turn, as the video chat allows.

“How are you? Who’s in New York?”

Four generations gather with food and wine, in celebration of our freedom as Jewish people.

An imperative that we continue imagining and building a world where all are free.

Unique meaning in this current crisis, a rehearsal for the climate crisis.

We say, “Next year in Jerusalem,” nodding to the Israelities who wandered the desert for forty years after Moses led the liberation.

Now we say, “Next year in person.”

What will the next generation say?

— Julia Levine (New York, New York)

A Cohen/Levine Virtual Seder, photo by Rich Cohen (Lanesborough, MA).


This series is edited by Thomas Peterson. One of the editors of Artists & Climate Change, he is also a theatre director and researcher whose work focuses on the climate crisis.

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