Pray And Hold On
by Gail Denham

In the post-World War II years, fewer gold stars
appeared in the neighborhood windows. Life
was calm, death far away, and red was simply
a color in the crayon box.

We jumped over fire hydrants and yelled
“Annie Over.” We hunted horned toads out back.
and left off hauling tin for the military.

Envelopes no longer arrived from countries like
Germany and France. I only got mad when kids
twittered at my soldier uncle’s wooden leg.

Sunny afternoons, after school, we played ball
in the dry grass of empty lots. I was in charge
of starting dinner, but often the potatoes burned.

Years sped by. I married and my husband did six years
in the army, then earned his degree, got a good job.
We felt anger at other smaller, useless wars and the
horrible waste of military personnel. Yet the country
survived. Our land was unique. We had good karma.

The birth of our fourth son filled the family. They all grew
so fast. Life was busy. Little League, bicycle races, plays,
proms. In time it was grandkids we took to parks and zoos.
They loved to feed the animals.

Then came Covid. Panels of doctors warned us to wear masks,
distance, wash hands endlessly. Lockdowns everywhere. Isolation.
A dear friend was due for an x-ray, but had to put it off. It was
cancer. She went quick. She was buried last month. I felt vulnerable,
helpless. All we could do now was pray and hold on.

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