T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month.” I’m no poet, but his musings on depression amid the blooming new life feel more poignant now than ever. In more pedestrian terms, it can be a frustrating month in any year. Sunny and warm April days can be filled with baseball games and family outings and gatherings with neighbors. Or they can be full of destructive storms and dreary days—even snow.
Which makes April a good metaphor for the week that was in what passes for our “new normal.” While we are dealing with rising death tolls and heartbreaking stories, we’re also seeing some areas appear to be past the worst in terms of deaths, new cases, and hospitalizations. Neighboring states are joining together to come up with plans for their region to reopen.
We also saw some extreme changes in temperament from Donald Trump. On Tuesday he claimed that “the federal government has absolute power” in his efforts to re-open the economy. On Wednesday he threatened to adjourn Congress to make recess appointments. And then Thursday he appeared serious and responsible in introducing the “road map” to re-open the economy, a set of guidelines that set reasonable benchmarks and deferred to governors. But it turned out to be merely a sunbreak amid the storms. On Friday he sent a series of tweets calling to “liberate” states that all happened to have Democratic governors.
But we do have that road map. Just as the jokes about homeschooling failures, day pajamas, and shaggy hair were starting to feel a little repetitive, the government announced a three phase plan that states can implement as they hit certain benchmarks. It’s not a panacea, but when you’re running the dishwasher for the second time in one day, when you’re lamenting that your kid won’t have their prom, when you’re worried about vulnerable family members or friends who work in health care, it’s comforting to have something to look forward to.