May 14, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

As I mentioned yesterday, a friend asked me to write a brief (300-or-so word) piece on the subject, “What I Miss (from before Covid-19).” As a person who’s always rewritten any assignment to suit what I felt like writing about, I wrote about something I’ve gained and lost during this time of During. Luckily, there’s a coda afterward that changes the whole tone.

First, though, what I wrote:

Since March 15, when Hope for New Hampshire Recovery closed, I’ve been writing daily letters to our membership ( The controlling image for these letters is that we have set sail from the Land of Before, are sailing the Sea of During and will, eventually, disembark into the Land of After. Cheesy, I know, but also useful.

My frame of reference doesn’t lead me back to Before, since I try to stay in the now. I do have one thing I miss with a passion, although I’d only discovered it in During and had to jettison it within a couple weeks. It’s embarrassing to reveal this, but I am at heart a geek, and I started playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) with four or five friends a month or so into the pandemic. It was great to create a character (a half-elf bard with great charisma), take part in adventures and spend time with the fellas. Unfortunately . . .

My daughter, Becca, lives with me. She is funny and smart and insightful, and she cares about me. A few nights ago, we had a Daddy-Daughter conversation unlike the ones we’ve had in the past, where I was the voice of reason and she the victim. Becca wanted to know if D&D included social distancing.

“Well … we have chairs that are far apart,” I hemmed. “But sometimes we sit close together.

She inquired about masks.

“I have one in my pocket,” I hawed.

She asked if we disinfected the toys we use to play the game.

“They’re not toys,” I protested. “They’re playing pieces … but, no, we don’t wipe them down all the time.”

Then . . . the coup de grace from Becca:

“If I were doing this, what would you tell me?”

I confessed.

“I’d say it’s not safe, and that both dungeons and dragons would be there once we land in after.”

That’s what I miss most. Not just Dungeons and Dragons, but being the dad instead of the wayward boy.

Because I didn’t want the D&D boys, to read about my decision online, I sent the following text:

Hey Fellas. After talking with my daughter, who’s concerned about Covid-19 and my age, I’m going to have to bow out of the game until things have changed. This has been the coolest thing I’ve discovered since the pandemic, and you guys are great, but I have to admit Becca is right. I’m sorry, and look forward to rejoining you as the voice of reason and the most charismatic mother you’ve ever met.

Feel free to call and tell me I’m a baby

And that, I assumed, would be that. Instead, all the fellas—Matt and Tito and Eric and Jon—texted me that they’d be happy to set me up with Zoom to play. So . . . I get to play D&D AND meet my daughter’s need that I stay safe.

Life doesn’t get better than that.

You matter. I matter. We matter.


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