The Spring was dawning, bringing with it the greening of the landscape, awakening the countryside from the dormancy of winter. The unfurling of the leaves and the budding of the trees was a comforting progression of the seasons, a reassuring sign that life was moving on as it does with the transitioning from one season to the next. Even though, as the birds began to more consistently greet the morning light with their song, there was an uneasy silence, the air hanging heavy with the rumbling of a far away storm. There seemed to be an air of uncertainty blanketing the land just as the newly awakened greening grass was as well. Both fighting each other for prominence. One thing we do know, is that while the air hangs heavy, the emergence of Spring will prevail… and so too shall we.
Crossing the oceans, that storm did come… fast and furious in some areas. In others insidiously wrapping itself around its occupants and yet in others, bringing with it lesser degrees of intensity. In all areas that it has hit, it has brought down trees with formidable roots of habits and interactions, power grids and the tried and true networks of communication intercepting gatherings and social interaction in the traditional way. I would call it an uprooting of what we know, all that we have resided with and in since the last enormous storm of this magnitude hit in 1918.
As the storm arrived in our area, after we had watched in horror as it ravaged those overseas in countries like Italy, Spain, China, Korea and more, we, along with others, sheltered in place as a family to try and avoid its path. We kept glued to the media, watching in growing horror the numbers of people afflicted in New York City, a two and a half hour drive from our home. The storm had moved through the state of Washington and California with pockets of intense strength. Then it developed in Michigan and Minnesota, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Eventually, the storm had affected all 50 states in the US, shutting down this land of the free and home of the brave, as it had done in other countries. These shutdowns were and continue to be a concerted effort to protect all citizens of this country. It continues to ravage and change living as we knew it.
The storm has brought with it not only an air of uncertainty but a paralysis of some sort. Does anyone in the midst of this storm feel dazed and confused, on an emotional rollercoaster and on some days in a sort of inactive stupor even though you had made a mile-long list of what you were going to try and accomplish that day? Do you have areas of your home or office that might show the signs of that paralysis and the confusion that might be cluttering your mind? Might those unchecked To-Do Lists and messy and cluttered spaces be symbolic of the messiness and clutter in your brain these days, which seems to bounce back and forth from the ying-yang of your emotions and all of the new information we are trying to process? Questions that we ask of ourselves and others, which we really have no consistent answers to… What will our path look like in moving forward in the future? I am pretty confident in saying that perhaps many of our brains feel like they are mimicking my office at this date and time.
I have struggled and wrestled with writing this post, rewriting it perhaps six or seven times. You see, there seems to be an overriding guilt for lack of a better term when we have not been hit as hard from this storm as others we hear about. About the lives we watch unfold in tragedy before us in the news outlets and in social media. We have a roof over our heads, a beautiful old home in which we live and have enjoyed even more so during these stay at home orders, four of our five children hunkered down with us, access to healthcare, and… food. It is a luxury to quarantine. We have not lost anyone that we know directly to this storm, yet some of us were afflicted with the symptoms and the resulting worsening of them and the fear of the unknown and worry as they did so. Thankfully and gratefully, we have survived that part of the storm where many have not. We are surviving the employment situation currently not withstanding some major pivoting, serious work hours and dedication from all involved. We are sheltered from some aspects of this storm while others are not.
Yet, my emotions vacillate daily from a place of constant background noise caused by concern and worry for my fellow man and woman, even more than before. What to do to help others and to make an impact on the crisis for the better? To the concern and worry for those in my own fold, our extended family and friends, our parents and in-laws, my soon to be 100-year-old grandmother, closed off to all of us, due to a lock down, like others at their assisted care living facilities. To the emotions of loss many have, for missed moments in time. For a son who has painstakingly learned how to live with his illness and to have retained some sense of normalcy as he was to finally graduate with his class and experience many firsts of his high school career this spring. Emotions felt for all of the graduates, the brides and grooms to have been wed, to the babies being born with only the woman birthing the baby being present, aside from the doctor. To the moms and dads out there trying to continue to work while homeschooling the kids, making dinner and cleaning the house… to those that are all alone and wish that they were in that scenario. To the new home buyer who can not settle and turn that key into the next chapter, to the fear and loneliness of the sick who are fighting the biggest battle of their life… alone. To the incomprehensible loss and grieving for a loved one. To the earth shaking emotions that must erupt when you are the health care worker who has replaced the family as their loved one takes their last breath. To those keeping the food supplies running and for those who are making those food supplies accessible to all, no matter the cost. To trying to keep our small businesses afloat. Blood sweat and tears have gone into the creation and running of these businesses that were started with a dream to become reality and to some unfortunately… to become yet a distant memory.
Whatever your experience has been, ALL of us have been affected as a country. We walk through the lives of others as we walk through our social media daily. We take on their hardships, their tragedies as we come to terms with our own. As we waffle in between the grey moments of uncertainty for the future, to black moments of utter darkness and loss to euphoric stories of survival and hope and belief in humankind do they not reflect the landscape of this unraveling Spring? The trees whose branches are still bare standing right next to those that have fully leafed out, some punctuated with purples, pinks and yellows from their vibrant new blossoms. From the brown batches of burnt out grass either from the season before or its demise over the winter which is jarringly illuminated by the new brilliant emerald green grass that lies next to it. To the dark ominous spring rain clouds and skies who unleash their storms upon us to the blue bird blue skies that appear the next day. How ironic that this pandemic reached its frantic level as this season was unfolding? The season of new life and rebirth after the dark and seemingly lifeless winter?
In this tumultuous last two months, what I have been amazed and inspired by is the creativity and the ingenuity of the people of this planet. The acts of solidarity in that we are not fighting this alone. The ingenious ways in which people have acted to give to others. The support and applause given both mentally and physically to those who are on the front lines of this storm battling its waves that it has thrown up at them… wave after wave after wave. The creativity and adaptability that the business owners whose livelihoods depend on a trade that is considered non essential have made to pivot to create new business models. There are countless ways that the human spirit has risen up to greet this storm head on, even though many days all you want to do is tuck yourself back into bed and dream of things as they used to be. Yes, this creativity and ingenuity has been born out of a horrific crisis and spearheaded in uncharted territory but they have brought on clarity in believing that much is attainable, especially the triumph of the spirit if we work together.
There has been, and will continue to be great adjustments in how we live. There has and will continue to be great suffering. There will be a need for change in many arenas. These statements have caused many of us to ask deep, deep questions and to reevaluate the way we are living and how we are spending our time. Injustices have been highlighted and things must not settle into the dust as remnants of this pandemic, when the storm dies down. This storm has stirred them up and brought many of these issues to the forefront. We must keep them there, reflect upon them and then take action, just like we did with this crisis.
I don’t know about you, but my to-do list which I created at the beginning of the stay home orders back in early March, has morphed into something very different than what I had originally written. Upon hearing that we would all be stuck at our home without leaving or with no visitors, I quickly wrote a list of 20 things that we needed to work on… projects that have been ignored. Everything from cleaning out the closets to fixing things to organizing areas that could use a little of that. I was going to attach a photo of it but having it sit upon the kitchen counter next to the stove top over the last 6 weeks have caused it to seriously deteriorate. I thought that by looking at it every day, it might incite some action. How wrong was I? Only ONE of the tasks has been crossed off that list! Instead, if I were now to write a “what we’ve accomplished list” it would read as if the activities were centered around creating memories vs checking things off of our To-Do list. As if we were trying to grab onto moments in time that will most likely never repeat themselves. When will we again have all four of our almost all grown-up sons under our roof for an extended period of time where they really cannot leave? They were on their perch to fly the coop but instead have been stuck with us. Having two of them with an illness which the jury is out on if it puts them in the “underlying condition” category, we are taking no chances. I’m not sure if it is their hungry bellies that brings them to the dinner table every night or the pride in showing off what they have cooked that night, or the fact that they have nowhere to go and are just bored and need someone to talk to, even if its just us, but we have not missed a meal all together as a family since the very beginning of this quarantine. Dinners that almost always result in 2 hours of dialogue during and after for I have deep thinkers here. Sometimes to my chagrin my comment, “Why don’t we just watch a movie?” is left on deaf ears before the discussions commence. We often don’t all agree and let me tell you, it is not all rosy and hunky-dory… but it is real and it is time that we have been afforded with them that we might otherwise not have had. It has led us to experience things we might not have MADE the TIME to participate in prior to this shut in. Prior to the last six weeks, often times the day ended with many of us scattering to our rooms, our office or to claim the tv in the family room. In these days of isolation we have experienced firsts in those hours before and after dinner.
Now that I have finally been able to snap out of my fog while I was dealing with all of the thoughts above and have put them into words, they seem to continue to flow. I will cease for now though and leave you with the following. Never before has social media connected us with such strength and power. From the rooftops and balconies of Italy, to the mountains of the Matterhorn where they are projecting the beautiful flags of various countries onto its surface, to the spread of drive by greetings, to the sharing of uplifting dancing on Tik Tok to……the images are beautiful testaments to the undeniable bond that we as humans have… everywhere.
There seems to be a connectedness, a concern for our neighbor, that though we are apart… we have never felt so connected.
In connectedness on social media, in connectedness in spirit, in connectedness through the days ahead… until we can gather again. We will be changed, we will be altered but we will be connected like never before due to this experience that we have lived through together.
PS. If you have any hotel or travel size toiletries or individually packed snack packs (cookies, crackers, potato chips, fruit snacks, and the likes) you can drop them off at the front of our barn. There is a Rubbermaid container there that you can leave them in. We are collecting them to donate to SHARE in Malvern who is bringing them to the Patrician Society to disperse to needy families and individuals in the greater Norristown area.
~ Thank you in advance!