This is truly an unprecedented time for all of us.

We’re inundated with terrible news left and right and it can be hard to remember that we’re all in this together.

That’s why we’ve started this new thing called, “JCC Denver Diaries,” a space where our staff members (and community members) can compose written pieces to share with our J families. Please read on to hear from Sarah Roberts, our Assistant Director of Education and Early Childhood Engagement at the Early Learning School:

“At the start of this year I had a plan, it was a great plan. I was going to go on vacation for the first time ever with my daughter. I did all the things, I saved the money, I bought the plane tickets in advance, paid for the AirBnB up front, and set the stage for the surprise. For one week, we would be able to turn off the alarm, wake with the sun, and create a day that we wanted. As we moved closer to the departure date, the world got weird. And now I am sitting in my bed, surrounded by the things I love: my small family, my animals, my plants, and my artistic expressions of connection. The alarm is turned off, but the dog still wakes me up by 6:00 am (after seven years, I think she is hardwired to wake up early). These three weeks feel like they should be a good thing. And I am trying to make them a good thing.

I am lucky my daughter is 10 and really good at finding ways to advocate for herself and to support her own needs in this time. We have learned the value of Facebook Messenger, and for the past day her cousin has just been a digital presence in the house. They are both doing their own thing, but checking in with each other when needed. She is trying to pretend that she isn’t heartbroken that she might not ever go back to her school again. We were planning on moving to a new school for fifth grade, but now who knows. How can I think about paying for school next year when I don’t know if I will be able to pay for rent next month? Seems hard to imagine even thinking about a vacation in the next year or five. I am trying to see this time as the much-needed space to write my lit. review for my doctorate. But it is hard to think about much else besides the people, teachers, families, and children, that I saw each day at the J.

“These three weeks feel like they should be a good thing. And I am trying to make them a good thing.”

For me that’s the part that I am the most heartbroken about. I am missing the daily connection—I miss Addy and her parents picking the right charm each morning to put in her ponytail. I miss every ‘good morning!’ and ‘how are you?’ from Brock, I miss talking about Minecraft with Ethan (Creepers were a real issue last week). I miss the “stare down” from Piper when she came in each morning with Coach Cory, or getting to see which stuffie Tess brought to school with her that day. I miss the teachers—I miss Paula eating her cereal, and Brandy making sure that we had everything we needed for a successful day, I miss Absinthe telling stories in the hallways, book recommendations from Pete, and Michaela’s never-ending smile. I miss the sounds that come with the ELS, I miss hearing the laughter and even the tears. I miss knowing that tomorrow I would see my family.

In my daily practice and life, I am a single mom, it is up to me to be the daily rock. I cook all the meals and do all the laundry. But in my time at the ELS, I have been given the privilege of an amazing family and support system. I have been given free lunches, all the chocolate I could need, and cup after cup of coffee. People from the whole community know us, know Ellymae. For the past four years, my life has been made richer by the people that hold us in their hearts each day. Digital connection is good, physical space is better. Phone conversations are good, face to face is fulfilling. Walks in the park are good, being the monster and chasing the children in 112 around the playground…that is life-giving.

In short, I miss my family.

We love you, Sarah. And we miss you, too.