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One day closer

“One day closer.” My wife and I use to say that before we got off the phone with each other.

We were teenagers. We were madly in love. We wanted to be together. We dreamed about getting married and living in the same house, going to sleep in the same bed, waking up together.

It drove us crazy that we had to wait, but each day we waited, we were one day closer. So we would say all the “love yous,” all the “good nights” and, right before we hung up, one of us would say, “One day closer.”

We got there after a few years. It wasn’t the paradise we’d imagined.

Sleeping with me means putting up with a lot. I snore. I yell out crazy things in the night. “Get over there and get that!” I whimper and moan and grunt. I do everything but peacefully rest.

I wasn’t used to cleaning house and picking up after myself. I kicked my clothes off in the floor without a thought about who would pick them up. I walked by things without noticing they were there. I dried my hands on the good towels and once infuriated Amanda by putting my contact in a spoon holder because I couldn’t find my case.

I’m sure at times “One day closer” became “One more day” for my wife – but we still said it. We were “One day closer” to our son being born; “One day closer” to being through nursing school; “One day closer” to a year sober.

And for 15 years we have been “one day closer” to hearing a song I wrote on the radio. That last one hasn’t happened, but it’s coming, and we’re both counting the days.  We’re “one day closer.”

Now we have found ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, and we’re counting it down.

My wife’s job is so hard right now. She is masked up all day. She is putting herself at risk treating patients with COVID-19. I worry so much about her. She clears her throat, and I say a prayer.

But it won’t be like this forever. There will be a vaccine, or we will reach herd immunity. That day is coming. It’s “one day closer.”

We’re “one day closer” to playing music in public again, to watching a game in a crowd of people, to not being counted when we go into Walmart at 3 a.m. We’re “one day closer” to taking a big trip somewhere, to shaking hands with our neighbor, to hugging our grandparents.

There is a day coming, way off in the distant future, when I tell my great-grandchildren what this time was like. It will be as hard for them to imagine as it was for me to imagine my great-grandmother’s stories about the Depression or my great-grandfather’s memories of World War II. They both made it through their trials one day at a time, just like we will make it through this one day at a time.

We’re “one day closer.”

Stults is a performing songwriter from Russellville.