This is my fifth week of isolation and I’ve been watching the news reports daily. I’ve been rather proud of my response to the situation that we are all facing, but this past weekend I let my emotions get the best of me. I had learned that a high school friend was going to have major heart surgery on Monday and I could not help identifying with her and her family. I had only a three weeks ago seen the kind of lockdown that was already happening in hospitals when I accompanied my husband for his own surgery and I knew that my friend would be facing her treatment without the comfort of having her loved ones beside her before and after the procedure. I literally felt the pain and fear that must have been theirs in both an emotional and physical way.
I also learned that a dear teacher friend had lost her beloved mother. I don’t know if the death was related to Covid-19 but I do know how much my colleague adored her mom. She would constantly post pictures of the two of them enjoying time together. It broke my heart to know that such a thing had happened in the midst of all of the chaos associated with the pandemic.
Later I heard that Mike’s aunt and uncle who now live in a senior residence were unable to see one another. She has been in the full nursing care section for many weeks now and he has had his own room. He has spent most of his days sitting with her, but now he is restricted to his area and she is alone in hers. The dining room where he ate breakfast, lunch and dinner is now closed. Meals are delivered to each room. Not only can the two of them not see each other but their children and grandchildren are also prohibited from visiting. I can’t even begin to imagine how lonely that must feel and it breaks my heart to think of them.
I prayed all weekend for a little cousin of mine who was hospitalized with a one hundred four degree fever of unknown origin. She eventually got better and the best guess for her illness was tonsillitis, but I nonetheless felt so helpless in being unable to do much for her and her family. I suppose that the inability to be of any real use in so many situations is bearing down on me and everyone else.
I watched the priests and deacons from my parish say mass on Palm Sunday and listened to the readings that spoke of the trial and death of Jesus. My mother used to sob every time she heard that terrible story. I always wondered why she cried when she heard it but this time I felt what she must have felt from deep inside my heart. The words resonated with me in a way that they never before have.
Then I listened to the lovely speech that Queen Elizabeth delivered to the people of the United Kingdom. It was so thoughtful and comforting. I found myself whispering “God Save the Queen.” I wondered why our president had not taken the time to convey such a sense of compassion and understanding to the American people. I thought of Ronald Reagan’s message to the people after the Challenger disaster and George W. Bush’s reassurances after 9/11. I think we need to hear words that are born of sensitivity to our concerns. It’s fine to get news about what is happening and what is being done but it would be great just to hear someone like the Queen talk to us as with a kind heart for our nation.
Anyway after the build up of all of these things. I felt quite weepy and during a moment alone I let go of all of the emotions that were running through my head. I suddenly found myself sobbing uncontrollably. It was probably the best thing that I might have done. I realized that I was much more affected by everything that is happening than I had thought. It’s so difficult to watch the suffering increase exponentially and realize that we may not even be near the end of it. My attempts at being brave have just been masking my true feelings. Somehow they all came to the fore on Sunday.
I was able to begin this week with a new determination. The poison that was filling my mind got drained with my tears. I spent all day yesterday celebrating the goodness of people. I was able to send my father-in-law a cake, ice cream, candles, a steak and some asparagus for his ninety first birthday. He was so happy and excited. Hear the lilt in his voice filled my heart with contentment.
My little cousin is back home now and feeling much better. My friend spent most Monday day undergoing quadruple bypass surgery. I got to talk with my daughters and I planned my math lessons for today. Somehow I found purpose and a way to cope with all the uncertainty with the very small victories that defined my day. I think I will be fine, at least for now.
I’m sure that I am not the only one who is reacting to the sheer insanity of all that is happening. I hear of young children who are becoming increasingly confused and frightened by the upheaval in their normal routines. I know of adults who are tossing and turning at night rather than sleeping. I suppose that what we all need to do is admit to our fears and then find a way to channel that energy into projects that might help us or help others. Reaching out and revealing my own emotions led to a floodgate of responses from people that I love. They too had been feeling down and just knowing that they were not alone made a huge difference for each of us.
We are navigating uncharted waters. We don’t know from one day to the next how this will turn out. We have to keep looking for the good, and there is so much of it if only we seek it out. We also should be honest with ourselves and allow those moments of anger or confusion or worry to reveal themselves. It is only in dealing with them that we will be strong enough to proceed. I’m okay now and I hope you are too. If not, I’m here for any of my friends who need someone to lean on. We can be together even from far away.