It has been one month since we knew something major was happening. March 17 was St. Patrick's Day. We were at home, trying to figure out if this was only an extended Spring Break of what.
My daughter was supposed to be in another state, visiting one of her choice colleges. They informed us on Thursday the 12th that all on campus visits were suspended. She and her classmates were in Orlando, Florida for an orchestra performance. The school had assured us that at the time they left on March 11th, there were only a handful of cases and not in Orlando. We had only had one reported in our suburb and that young lady had traveled from Italy.
It has only been one month since the world as we knew it came to a crashing halt.
I am like so many that I know who are trying to make sense of this. An extended spring break turned into virtual school for a few weeks that ended up being for the remainder of the school year. The seniors were informed they would not need to take finals and if they wanted to be done, they could freeze their grades at whatever it was when they left for spring break. April 15th, my daughter decided she was done.
How many of us feel done?
Or just plain scared?
Inside this Covid19 month, our family also dealt with the near-tragedy of our oldest son being shot multiple times, heart stopping on the ER table three times while the doctors were fishing bullets from his lungs. They ended up cutting him open like a letter T because of what the thieves did to him. He was ambushed. He owns a virtual store that sells high end athletic shoes and custom t-shirts. A "customer" came with an intention of stealing almost $1000 worth of merchandise and planned to take his life. St. Patrick's Day will never be the same. My son survived what all five surgeons said he would not survive. After 23 days in the hospital on a ventilator and multiple surgeries later, he is at home with his fiancee, recovering. He became our Easter miracle.
Friends lost family members to the virus that swept through entire swaths of people with a speed and voracity that no ordinary person was ready for. This was all within the last two weeks of March.
How can we not feel unmoored, uncertain, uneasy?
There is a massive, silent killer roaming the land and everyone I know is trying to manage staying at home, those that can. Others are trying to figure out how to go out into the world and be safe.My youngest son flew back to Boston to find his job was furloughed and his graduation from the conservatory postponed.
There is a collective pain and grieving happening.
And we need to let it sit.
I sat down the other day and gazed at the trees from over my balcony. It was a bright day. The sun was shining and any other time, I would have been at my favorite coffee shop, reading and writing. Or, I would have taken my daughters out to the riverfront so we could just walk and ponder. But, I can't do that. And I mourned a bit. Then I smiled.
A bird perched on the rail. It was singing it's morning song.
All creation is breathing differently now that we human beings are nestled inside homes. Nature is pondering what her life can be like with new air.
Then I decided to look at this whole thing in a different way.
I'm already an introvert, as are all but two of my family members. We are comfortable in the spaces of our familiar, surrounded by our books, art, music. Each of us has navigated being at home in ways that are refueling our spirits while we mourn loss of celebrations we were planning. We have found a calm and a renewal.
What if that is one of the possibilities that we embrace?
My city and suburb has extended stay-in-place indefinitely, cancelling all festivals planned for the summer, graduations are all but off and worship services have moved into virtual space. Home will have to become the "it" stretching into 2021 and 2022, by some estimations.
So what do we do with this pace of slowing down? What can we consider new? What new thing can emerge from it?
I have been saying that one day we will open our doors again, and when we do, I want it to be to a world that does not exploit one over the other, that does not hoard all the toilet paper, that pays a full and fair wage so people are not pawns to a system, that home is for everyone, that healthcare is a living right and educational opportunities are not limited by zip code. That is the dreamer in me, but I believe some dreams can come true.
What new thing can we collectively imagine? How can we collective dwell in possibilities?
I don't have all the answers and like so many that I know, we are turning calendar pages, looking at all the crossed out events, and wondering how we survived 30+ days at home. We are also wondering if we will emerge whole in another 30+ days and 30+ days after that and another 30+ days when the leaves are supposed to turn, fall crispness fills the air and the rituals of back-to-school were supposed to greet us with a return-to-order from a summer of leisure. I don't know what it will be like on May 17 or June 17 or August, September, or January 2021.
The only thing I know is that this will pass.
I heard a well respected female Bishop say in a facebook chat that new life can emerge from death, that there is a resurrection. We will emerge.
There is an ancient passage in the Bible, in the Book of Philippians that reads, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Sounds so simple, but that is really what makes it beautiful. I can't change that Covid19 swept across the country and that those who had information going back to November and January chose to ignore the warning signs. I can't change that it spread like wildfire. I can't change the lives lost. I can't change any of it. So why let myself be anxious about the unknown that is and will be tomorrow?
If I can't change it, what can I do?
Every morning, I give thanks that I am alive. Over the course of my son's time in the ICU and the piercing ppppprrrrring of my phone at 9am, I would give thanks that the report was he was alive, he did not die that night or the next or the next. I give thanks for food and shelter and hygiene and my daughters who are home with more time to spend together before the older one goes to college. I give thanks for wisdom and the people who have collectively taken care to stay home for we are all in this together. And I whisper my prayers for the possible, for the tomorrow, for when we will open our doors again.
So, join me in that. In the one month+ since I've been home, since so many things have happened, and breathe. Sit still. Close your eyes. and smile. You are here. I am here. And that is beautiful. We will emerge.