|Day 28 of 31 at TWT!|
"What're you turning on the TV for?" Rainbow Girl cranes her neck from her spot crouched on the floor, playing with the VTech Smart Animals set affectionately known in our house as "Kitty and Baba's house".
"Oh, there's something special I'm hoping we can see today..." I grin.
"What is it? What is it? What is it?" Sweetie starts leaping around the family room, and Rainbow soon imitates her.
I just smile and find the right place to click on the tv's YouTube app until the event pops up... with a preview picture of someone very special!
"LAURIE!!!!" Both girls squeal and jump as if they're seeing a best friend or favorite family member.
The countdown timer appears, and after yelling, "church!" because it's the same one our church uses before online services, they excitedly count down as they prance around the room. ("Is it church?" Rainbow Girl keeps interjecting, and I keep reassuring her, "It's just the same countdown as church. It's gonna be Laurie!")
"5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0..." Bouncing curls, bright eyes, a smile that seems to tell even me that everything is going to be ok, and a guitar appear, and it's spring of 2020 and 2 years of rocking chair snuggles all at once as Laurie Berkner launches into the song that's become our special lullaby, "When I Woke Up Today". Rainbow runs around the room for a verse and then scrambles onto my lap as if she can't decide if it's better to dance or cuddle to this song. "I shouted out 'hooray'! / 'cause I knew I'd see you..." I pull her close as I coo into her ear, "and we could sing together..."
Just like we've seen her do for 2 years now, Laurie looks straight into the camera after the song, telling us to grab our instruments and stuffed animals, seeming to talk right to us in that Mr. Rodgers-esque measured, caring way. Even I forget that she can't actually see us; her conversational tone is so authentic. It truly feels as if an old friend is visiting us as we notice the new decorations in her house and watch her tune her guitar, take sips of water, and dance around her family room as we frolic around ours.
|blanket-monsters for the "Monster Boogie" today!|
I can't believe it's been 2 years. Rainbow has grown from a sitting baby flailing her "Laurie shake-shake" to a preschooler who can actually jump along with "Chipmunk at the Gas Pump". We've curated our own playlists to enjoy when the daily Lives stopped and eagerly celebrated the release of new music videos. Sweetie has gone from finishing preschool remotely to thriving in person in 1st grade.
|so little in spring 2020!|
|a quick dance break with their daddy in summer 2020!|
When I see Laurie's smile, I remember how Rainbow gradually stopped crying as Laurie put on her mask at the end of every Facebook Live in spring 2020; how that simple act helped her understand that Laurie was still Laurie in a mask and by the time we actually started needing to wear masks, it was no big deal. I remember the guaranteed half hour of joy each day when the stress and weight of the pandemic lifted away as we danced and wiggled around this room and listened to Laurie tell us we were superheroes and she loved us. I remember the delight of learning fun new songs and the familiar comfort of classics we already knew. I remember stuffed animals on our heads, becoming goldfish and dinosaurs and monsters, and grabbing Husband out of the den to blast off Rocketship-Sweetie into the air while I lifted Rainbow-Rocketship beside her. I remember scooping up 1yo Rainbow to fly her around like a bumblebee. I remember the magical excitement of Laurie saying the girls' names or playing requested songs we put in the chat. I remember dragging all our our pool toys into house for the virtual beach concert and wearing our costumes for the Halloween one. I remember the way both girls' faces absolutely lit up every single time Laurie appeared on our TV, and the way Rainbow would grab favorite toys and run up to the TV to show Laurie, convinced that she could really see us. I remember both sisters running wildly around the house with their toy guitars, "Laurie shake-shake" (tambourine), toy Harry the Chipmunk, and superhero blanket-capes.
Most of all, I remember having something certain to look forward to when the days dragged into weeks and months, and hope turned into uncertainty, monotony, and frustration. And I remember, as we noticed small changes in Laurie's room, saw her dial in other bandmates from their houses across the miles, and watched her overcome technical challenges and learn new digital tricks, feeling like we were really in this together.
So on a much-too-frigid-to-be-outside, still-not-safe-from-Covid-indoors first day of Spring Break, there was truly "no better thing to do / than sing a song and hear you sing it too" with Laurie. Thank you, Laurie, for your concerts in our house these past 2 years. Someday, we hope to see you in person.
|Rainbow, now 3, holding her own animal for "Pig on Head"!|