When it’s gone, it’s gone

By Kris Ferrazza | May 18, 2020

For years my husband has used the pointless yet profound-sounding “It is what it is” to get out of tough spots.

Initially, I thought he was an enigma wrapped in a riddle for his wise Yoda-like doublespeak. But after a while, I realized it was complete and total nonsense. “It is what it is” is meaningless. It’s idiotic. It ranks right up there with the equally useless and defeated “What are ya gonna do?” Both are conversation-enders, and effective ones too. A way to disengage.

If a nearly 30-year relationship teaches us anything, it’s that turnabout is fair play. So over the decades, I have stolen a lot of Tim’s best material and turned it against him. And he has done the same to me.

In the early years, we were sharp and would call each other out on this type of trickery. One of us would turn to the other immediately and say, “Hey, that’s my thing!” We’d laugh, confess and move on from there.

Fast forward another 10 years, however, and we no longer remembered whose material was being stolen. That’s when we knew we truly evolved as a married couple.

“Wait, did I steal that from you, or did you steal it from me?” we’d say, then silently muse awhile. “I honestly can’t remember whose thing that was.”

Truth is, it didn’t matter. Now, as we approach three decades together, nobody cares who holds the copyright.

Finally, during our quarantine, I have put my own twist on “It is what it is.” My version is equally annoying. My new axiom is “When it’s gone, it’s gone.” Simple, yet obvious. Best of all, it actually means something.

About a month after we all became shut-ins, I grew tired of being the snack police. For a week or two, I scolded my teen and husband for eating us out of house and home. I’d tell them to be conservative, as we were in the midst of a global crisis. Each time I found empty wrappers, I’d climb on my soapbox to preach about the pandemic and remind them that grocery shopping trips now are few and far between.

It got old fast. So instead of ranting, one day I simply dropped my genius one-liner: ”When it's gone, it's gone.” It felt so good. They knew exactly what it meant.

Now, I can’t claim full credit for this. My parents created the phrase back in the '70s as they were raising a brood of five kids, who were eating them out of house and home. If my mother baked cookies and we were stealing them faster than she could put them into the cookie jar, either she or my father would announce, “Go ahead, have a party, but when they’re gone, they’re gone.”

We knew what that meant. There was a limited supply of delicious cookies and we had to think about tomorrow.

I thought I perfected my father’s ominous tone when I issued my warning, and was sure my family would heed my words. I was wrong. In record time, it looked like a plague of locusts went through the cupboards. That was just Week one, so naturally Week two was looking pretty grim.

At first, I ignored their puppy dog eyes as they watched television each night with no cookies or ice cream. Sometimes they would use innocent, hopeful voices to ask me if we had anything for dessert. After Old Mother Hubbard answered “Nope,” they would sigh deeply. I was being played and we all knew it.

Even though I talk tough, after a few days I couldn’t look at their sad faces any longer. So I caved and made whoopie pies. Joy was restored to the kingdom.

I’ve tried to impress upon them that we all need to make sacrifices large and small in the age of coronavirus. This is not business as usual. The simple fact is, they don’t need to be told. They know it. We all know it.

My teen will not have a middle school graduation or eighth-grade formal. That’s a sacrifice. My husband has to wear a mask all day at work. That’s a sacrifice. I had to buy Kraft parmesan cheese at the grocery store because they were out of the good stuff. You get my point.

Truth be told, everyone’s nerves are shot. After a long day of news notifications on my phone, doing remote learning with my students, and homeschooling my own daughter, I know I should feel grateful to be home safe, healthy and employed. But it’s Groundhog Day every day and that’s a sacrifice too.

Still we will persevere. Until the coast is clear, we will continue to sacrifice. We will ration our snacks, wipe down the groceries, wash our hands, wear masks, bleach the doorknobs, and FaceTime those near and far.

It is what it is. What are ya gonna do?

And the beat goes on.

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