Dear Brody,
You were a bit too young to remember what life was like during the coronavirus pandemic that swept through the world in 2020, some 13 plus years ago.  Hard to believe it's been that long. Thankfully, we survived these very uneasy and uncertain times and and you are a grown-up now.  Soon enough you'll be off to college and ready to enter a whole new phase in your life.
But back in 2020, when you were just 4-years-old, people all over started getting really really sick and this disease known as the coronavirus, or COVID-19,  was spreading like crazy and some people were dying.  It was pretty scary. We didn't know what to do as we were unprepared to fight a battle against the kind of virus unlike anything we've ever seen, and it came on so quickly.

I know this may sound hard to believe, but for a while we went through a "social distancing" phase where everyone was instructed to basically stay indoors unless we had to travel to work or get groceries at the store. Elderly people like Grammy, Papa, and Grandpa Dukes were most vulnerable to the virus, and so for a very long time, the only way you could see them was through FaceTime on phones or computers. But it wasn't just the elderly. The only way to see Aunt Sherri, all of your cousins and even your friends was also through FaceTime and you got very good at talking to them. They missed seeing and being around you so, so much.  Luckily, we were able to share lots of pictures with them because for months, we were instructed to not get too close to people, even family members who missed you so much.  Believe it or not, people were so scared, they bought up all the toilet paper.  We never did figure out the reason why either.  It wasn't like people who got sick ended up with the shits.  I guess you could say that these were some weird times!

School was canceled for a while too, and even though you were only in Pre-K at the time, you missed your friends.  You teacher at the time did a great job of scheduling online classes for you and your classmates to see one another and learn some things.  She did this because she missed all her students so much and she was a very very good teacher.

Your mom and Samantha were both able to work from home, and they spent countless hours juggling their busy schedules so that they could be in the house with you while making time to get their own work done at home. Many families were doing this at the time. It wasn't easy for them, but everyone worked together to make it work. I was working on the radio and still required to go into the station everyday to try and make people laugh a little and keep them informed.  We worked longer hours on the radio so that we could provide some comfort for people whose lives were anything but normal.  Back then, most of our listeners put us on while they were driving their cars to work.  But there were so few cars on the road, it was hard to tell some days if anyone was listening.  But they were, and we were there for each other.
Some days, I would come home from work after a particularly stressful day and it was your smiling face, running to meet me at the door that helped me forget about just how unsettling the world had become.
Everyday we instructed you to what to do to avoid getting the coronavirus and you were such a champ.  You washed your hands, wore gloves, stayed 6-10 feet away from people we didn't know and for such a little boy, you really seemed to understand how these 'new rules' were very important.
When we explained to you that we couldn't go to your favorite places like Billy Beez, you never complained.  Instead , we found new adventures like taking your Power Wheels Jeep out to Washington Park and we hunted zombies all afternoon.
After you used the bathroom, Samantha and I would hear you sing the Happy Birthday song while you washed your hands.  Happy Birthday dear Daddy, Sammy, Biggie and Tiny....happy birthday to youuuuu!  It was the cutest freaking thing.
You hated hand sanitizer and cried so much when he tried putting some on your hands.  It wasn't funny but I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit when some of the alcohol got into a little cut you had on your finger.  Your face got so red and you were so mad.  With tears coming down your cheeks, I tried blowing on your finger to make the pain go away and I thought you were going to punch me.
Just like you did when you were at your house with your mommy, while you were at Daddy and Sammy's house, we used the extra family time to snuggle, watch movies and do puzzles.
We also colored these pretty rainbows and hung them up in our window for people to see to cheer them up when they couldn't leave their house.  You opted to not make a rainbow, instead you made a snail, that looked really pissed off, named him Brody and we hung him up too. He was cute.
You went from jumping around in bounce houses with complete strangers and having family dinners at Aunt Sherri's house to making forts in the living room and eating frozen pizzas on the couch.  I wasn't really sure really you noticed all that much changed, until this one time...
One day during the first few weeks of social distancing, we got a pretty big snow storm and some people made a snowman in the park.  I remember picking you up one afternoon from your mom's house and while driving to Daddy/Sammy's house, I pointed it out to you.  "Look Brody" I said, "On Daddy's side, there's a cute little snowman that somebody made!" "Oh yeah, I see him, he's cute!" you mumbled.
Then you followed up with something that I'll never forgot.  "Daddy...why did those people make that snowman?"  I turned around to you and said,  "I don't know buddy, why do you think they did?"
You thought about it for a few seconds before it dawned on you.
"I wonder if they made it so that people who are sick would see it and they would smile and be happy?" you explained.
During these times of uncertainty, I couldn't think of anything more reassuring or poignantly spot on.  I simply nodded and said,  "Exactly, my man.  That's exactly why they made it."
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