I read The Design Legacy of Covid? It’s All Around You and got to thinking about the fingerprints past crises have left on my life. Think airport screenings and masks and QR codes. But rather than carefully sculpted scars, undesigned legacies came to mind.
Undesigned legacies of past crises scatter around me like fistfuls of ashes. They are nearly invisible irritants tossed up in the air. They become particulate matter showering down around me. I collide with these particles of the past in the most unexpected ways. Yesterday, I hit one example head-on while driving a well-worn road. I was heading towards the city’s center for a simple errand. Like on autopilot, I daydreamed while driving. I was thinking up a friend’s future baby shower gift.
Let me back up. A colleague at the academic cancer research center where I work will soon have a much-wanted, highly unexpected baby. The colleague, a physician-scientist, is dedicated to understanding life and her patients’ medical problems. She thinks big and boldly and has a strong belief in the common good. This rebel female over-forty has her sights set on starting a cancer research lab of her own in the future. She is a tremendous mentor and will make a world-class mom; I am over the moon for her and her budding family and volunteered to organize a baby shower.
Baby showers are an onerous task under normal circumstances. There are additional burdens given pandemic precautions and restrictions. For twenty-plus months, with safeguards to protect patients and each other and families, no one in the cancer research center has wanted to be together in the same room at the same time, let alone eat cake together. But thanks to science and vaccines, we are able and willing to show up for this special person. The mother-to-be was prodded out of her humble shell and did her part to provide a baby registry and a guest list. Like our COVID vaccination rate, 100% of invitees accepted. It is unanimous — we are all ecstatic to shower her with support.
True to the colleague’s nature, she compiled a nonconformist gift wish list. The list is a window into her extraordinary nature. She asked for homecooked meals, dog walking support, and worn baby clothes with no preference for colors because “babies don’t care and neither do we.”. She even stated, “We know that we are entering parenthood in a financially stable and very privileged position and would be just as happy to have our friends and family direct their generosity to other new families who are less…