It’s funny, sometimes, the things we remember, snapshot moments that retain their clarity even as all else becomes fuzzy with time.
- I remember sitting in Mr. Hollis’s social studies class as the secretary announced over the loudspeaker that President Reagan had been shot.
- I remember checking my email before going to work on a normal September morning and seeing a few messages from my friend, Chuck. The subject line of the most recent one was, “TWO planes?!”
- I remember sitting in one of the portables at the high school back in January, watching CNN10 with the class as the reporter talked about a new virus that seemed to have originated in the Chinese town of Wuhan.
And yet, not all my snapshots are negative.
- I remember my grandfather, gap-toothed smile and crows-foot creases at his eyes, as he bent down to show me a proud handful of baby potatoes he’d grown in his backyard.
- I remember the first moment I ever saw the man who would become my husband, standing next to a mutual friend on the other side of the room.
- I remember my son’s face, so small and innocent, full of pure joy and wonder as I carried him in my arms through softly falling snow. Even now, I look at the towering teenager he has become, and I still see that child in his eyes.
Life is messy and complex, joy and sorrow so intimately entwined that it is hard to imagine a deeply lived life that is missing either.
When the schools closed down last month, I spent the next few days on Facebook, seeking out and sharing links to information, research, and resources to support us in the coming months. I shared art, music, and educational opportunities, moments of grace and contribution that showed how people are coming together to help each other through this time.
And then I stopped.
It was too much: too much data, not enough information. Too many things I could not control. Too many people declaring their emphatic Truth when the actual truth is that there are too many things we simply do not know.
It’s hard, not knowing.
So I pulled back, back to what is in front of me: my family, my home.
My husband was helping set up someone’s computer so they could work remotely when he found out that the person he was helping had been exposed to the virus by a positively identified co-worker. When he got home, my husband quarantined himself in our bedroom, just in case. Two weeks passed, and it seemed like neither he nor the other person developed major symptoms. But then our son got sick: coughing, high fever. My mind shifted towards pragmatism: what can we do? I laundered clothes and bedding, sprayed his cuddly friends with disinfectant, wiped down doorknobs and light switches and other surfaces. I wasn’t panicking. I’d read the articles. Even if he had somehow managed to contract COVID-19, he was young, otherwise healthy, and without any of the comorbidities that had been associated with complications. I was calm, reassuring, and efficient — until I was alone with my husband and allowed my tears of What If to fall.
Because we don’t know.
For the most part, to my mom-sense, he didn’t feel all that sick, except when his fever spiked super high. Even knowing that the tympanic/ear thermometer we use was expected to run a full degree higher than an oral one, a reading of 103.9 is still scary.
We took him to the ER. We were instructed to wait in our vehicle in the parking lot, and a nurse and attendant in disposable protective gear wheeled out a machine for checking his vitals. Apparently our thermometer was out of whack, because by the time they checked him, his temp was under 101 by mouth. He tested negative for strep and flu but didn’t qualify to be tested for coronavirus. So we went home.
His fever broke a day or two later. He’s been coughing and tired, but otherwise happy to lounge around in bed, chatting with his friend on his Chromebook. They started school again this week, so he’s been attending his Zoom sessions and doing his classwork, grateful he can stay in his robe and jammies.
Then I discovered that a mentor of mine had tragically lost his 24-year old son the same day we’d taken our son to the ER. I don’t know the circumstances, but it seems to have been wholly unexpected.
We never know.
Heck, look at the Mountain Healing Arts Association, the organization of which I’m currently president. I was so excited about building a living, breathing community where we could get together in person every month and share Love and Presence and Inspiration and, well…. Maybe we can see each other in the fall?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that I have a choice. Every moment is an opportunity to pause and ask myself: who do I want to be? And are my choices supporting that way of Being?
- Am I doing everything I can to nurture myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
- What else can I do to honor my dreams and aspirations?
- How much more deeply can I allow myself to feel? Not to wallow or drown, but to allow my sorrows and fears space to breathe, bringing them forth into the light and warmth of Love eternal.
- How can I be an inspiration to others, helping them remember their own strength and joy?