These are hard times. The word, unprecedented, does not come close to describing what we are going through. COVID has swept our globe with tsunami force leaving in its wake overrun ICUs, death, unemployment, food lines, isolation, and stress that for lack of a better descriptor is… well, unprecedented.
We hesitate to inject positivity here. For we know we are among the privileged. Our zip code has not been ravaged; we have not had to wait hours in a food line. We are not essential workers; nor are we on the front lines in a hospital emergency room.
However, COVID has interrupted our privilege with loneliness and longing. We cannot hug a grandchild, or meet a grown daughter for a drink, or visit a mother in a nursing home. Yet we have also recognized a few silver linings, for which we are grateful. We are recording them here, so as not to forget.
Silver Lining 1: Reuniting family
My family of origin is spread across the states. One sister lives in Vermont, four brothers reside in New York, Minnesota, and California, and nieces and nephews are dispersed. We see one another once a year at best and talk mainly on holidays and birthdays. Since COVID, however, my nephew has organized a weekly ZOOM call that has enabled us to connect. Yes, there are awkward silences and interruptions, but there is also laughter. Our family, however flawed, knows one another’s backstory and can speak in shorthand, referencing people and places only we know. We are closer now than ever before.
Silver Lining 2: Slowing down
Walking the dog, chatting with a neighbor from across the street, reading a book, journaling, planning a recipe, calling a friend – time during a quarantine has made us stay more present. We might share a smile with a fellow dog walker, or gaze at a hidden garden, or marvel at a cleverly disguised robin’s nest.
Silver Lining 3: And this is a big one. Examining systemic racism
We have COVID generated time now to learn and to listen. We are reading White Fragility and Just Mercy as well as the signs held aloft by the protesters in our streets. We watch and rewatch horrifying videos. We are trying to understand more and speak less, and to call out our myopic and generationally unresponsive eyes and ears. COVID is urging us to practice humility.
Silver Lining 4: Thinking about what matters
We can’t zip over to the store. We can’t have coffee with a friend. We can’t stroll an outdoor mall, or get our hair done. We are sick of our own cooking and we have saturated all Netflix options. We wear the clothes we slept in, and showering is, shall we say, less frequent. But at the same time we are grateful each morning when we wake up and discover we are not sick. We are thankful we have dogs to keep us company. And the weather…winter has passed and we are uplifted by the blue sky and the bright light that extends well into evening. All the trappings of our lives are stripped away and we are thankful for our family and friends. Needs and wants are more clearly delineated. Perhaps we can live without those skinny margaritas or that blow dry with the beach-y waves.
I concur with my dear friend’s observations. Life IS different. I don’t want to say, it will never be the same again, because that’s been said before, after 9/11, after the Great Recession of 2008, basically after every major crisis or shattering event.
Some of us will learn lessons from these last few months and some of us won’t. For me, as a sixth decade-er, it will leave its imprint, its message to wake up, that time’s a fleeting. It has made me think more deeply. I was already in heavy thinking mode, having retired and struggled with a new chapter (those of our blog readers know this), but this COVID message is both physical and mental. My husband and I are considered “elderly”!! Who? Me? Couldn’t be. The disease could be lurking in coughs, on Amazon delivery boxes – a facial-touch away. We are vulnerable, but we are also profoundly thankful.
May we hold onto this gratitude for as long as we can. May we treasure our children, our grandchildren, our spouses, partners, and friends – we realize now more than ever that they could be taken away from us at any time.
As for racial tensions, we need to stop and think before we open our mouth; we need to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. And we must be kinder, more tolerant, and ever mindful that not everyone has the privilege of being taken at their word.
There are no “Takeaways” today. Just read our words which, hopefully, will leave a tiny imprint. We bare our rawest feelings when we blog and we hope just one person may walk away, saying, “Wow, I feel that way too.”
Enjoy the ride,
xox Barclay and Joy