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Weekly newsletter of Jessica Lahey - Issue #1

Jess Lahey
Jess Lahey
Look at the sky, I’m still here.

Finn, my youngest, turned eighteen today. His big brother, Ben, came home for college, we ate birthday dinner and cake, and watched a movie together. It was divine.
If you have been reading my work over the past decade or so, you have met Finn before, first as the nine year-old who could not tie his shoes in The Gift of Failure, the eleven year-old who could not keep his backpack and papers organized in my New York Times column, and the thirteen year-old who overcame his fear of talking to strangers on Vermont Public Radio.
Finn is a senior now, closing out secondary school as pandemic kid. He’s spent the past few years interacting with his peers through a computer screen or from behind a mask.
Finn produces digital music, so he’s been productive and engaged even when school has felt irrelevant and distant, but he has not always been happy. Two years of a life interrupted by COVID-19 has changed him. He’s become more introverted and more pessimistic as the pandemic taught him to protect himself from disappointment, unforeseen complications, cancellations, and thwarted plans.
My husband Tim and I have been vigilant, watching both for signs of depression and opportunities for joy.
Last weekend, for two precious days, joy reigned.
Finn’s birthday present was a trip down to Boston for a Porter Robinson show, and he’s been looking forward to it with cautious optimism for months.
Robinson got famous for his electronic music while he was still in high school and in the years since he hit the big time, he has struggled with depression, something he talks about publicly in interviews.
This spring, however, Robinson emerged from his personal darkness bearing a bright and beautiful new album, Nurture.
Nurture is a travelogue and promise for anyone looking for a way out of the dark. He writes of romantic and familial love, inspiration, celebration, and finding purpose beyond ego fulfillment.
Standing there in the packed theater with thousands of masked pandemic kids belting out the chorus of “Look at the Sky,” all sweaty and radiant in the glow of Robinson’s newfound purpose and joy, I began to cry.
Look at the sky, I’m still here
I’ll be alive next year
I can make something good, oh
Something good
I had not faced just how frightened I’ve been of losing my kid to the darkness of this pandemic, and how desperate I have been for reassurance that he’ll be alive next year when it’s time to head off to college, when his world will open up far beyond the confines of his bedroom walls.
Back home in Vermont, fall has peaked and winter is coming on with longer nights and grayer days. Finn will continue to struggle with the pressures of approaching adulthood and the losses of his pandemic childhood, but I have a plan. I will put Nurture on repeat in the kitchen, sing along with Porter, and remind Finn I’m on his side as he creates his own music and finds his way into the light.
Look at the Sky   SD 480p
Look at the Sky SD 480p
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Jess Lahey
Jess Lahey @jesslahey

I write about all kinds of stuff but if you are into the writing life, the woods of Vermont, life with dogs, or my work in child welfare and substance use prevention, then you are in the right place.

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P.O. Box 159, Shelburne, VT 05482