nomads of the pandemic

Stefan and Heather arrived home in mid-March, at the beginning of the pandemic, right when the world was shutting down. Their journey home was frantic– as it was for so many people at that time. Rushed phone calls, rapidly packing up their apartment, throwing everything in storage and racing to the airport for the last flight home.

They came with two suitcases– packed for a summer in San Diego where Stefan had a summer job at a fancy law firm. Because of course the world would be back to normal by then, right?

And it’s fall, and they’ve been here for 7 months and they still only have what they brought in those two suitcases. Heather’s birthday is next week and when I asked what she wanted, she simply said, “Anything warm.”

They’ve been holding out hope Harvard might open up again. Freshmen were allowed on campus for their first semester this fall, maybe students in their last semester could attend class on campus January-May?

Today, they got word Harvard will remain online for the rest of the school year. And it’s as much a loss for Heather as for Stefan. They loved their life in Cambridge, Heather loved her ward and her work (and like so many others, hasn’t found an equivalent here). I know they are mourning, but they are also counting their blessings.

When Stefan took the job in San Diego for the summer, they were sad that they’d miss the birth of baby Fritz, Gabe’s graduation and mission farewell.

And they were here for ALL of it. Not just the expected events– but the unexpected: home church, late night puzzles, cook outs in the canyon, wildfires and blackouts, mountain church, home MTC, so many hikes and swim parties and discussions around the dinner table; snuggling Fritzie on the couch and competing to make him smile.

Early on, we assigned everyone a night of the week to make dinner (I was getting overwhelmed). I’d guess most members of the family don’t even remember which night they volunteered for at this point, but every Thursday, no matter what else is happening, Stef and Heather make a gorgeous dinner.

I’m so sorry they’ve missed these semesters at Harvard. They can’t get those back. But we can’t get these months back either. No matter how we look back on 2020, no matter how we tell the story of this year, I’ll always be deeply, profoundly grateful Stefan and Heather were here. ❤️

October 20, 2020
October 25, 2020



  1. Nia

    October 21, 2020

    Out of curiosity, why did they have to go home? Was there no possibility to remain in Cambridge and to continue online school/work from there? I know the Northeast became very strict when the pandemic hit, and I was wondering if there was a mandate for non-MA registrants to return home.


      October 23, 2020

      Good question! Lots of reasons, but primarily because housing there costs $2200 a month (plus a higher cost of living) and they would have been isolated and stuck inside.

      • Nia

        October 24, 2020

        That makes sense! Thank you for your reply. I would have made the same choice if I was in their position after you explained it.

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