A friend picked up painting canvases from a local paint store and dropped them to our house. We didn’t get close to one another, and the interaction was awkwardly distanced as we waltzed around her car.

“Let’s have the kids get together on Facetime tomorrow. They can paint together, and it will give them some time to hang out.”

So at 10.30 this morning, my daughter setup her painting project on the kitchen table, the iPad set up across from her. And at 10.30, the chime of the Facetime call came through. At the push of a button, the occupancy of our house doubled. I heard them laughing, the sounds of their voices tinged with the slighted pixelated delay, the uncanny valley of in-person friendship gone online.

This is a moment in our history when keeping people apart plants the hope that we’ll all be able to be together again. Dystopian playdates. Virtual hugs. The Internet becomes a glue that will hold us together if we use it right and use it honestly.

They painted. And laughed. And had to call each other back a few times because the call kept dropping. Two hours of low-key giggles and artwork between friends who will remember this moment as “how we did normal stuff during the COVID-19 thing.”

I have no idea how long this social distancing thing is going to last. It is lonely. I miss watching my kids play with other kids. Things feel dull; not in a boring sort of way, but like the shine is off everything. Tarnished by this virus, this thing I can’t see but feels like it’s everywhere. Is that because this chaos and anxiety feels endless at the moment?

Will the light shine brighter once this is over?

Reach out if you’re lonely. Or if you’re scared. Or if you have an idea that might help people cope or might make them laugh.

Or if you have paint, and you want to paint together.