Everything’s not lost

These past couple of weeks have been almost mind boggling. There’s a sense of disbelief that what we see happening around us is, in fact, reality and not a Hollywood movie.

Millions of people quarantined inside their homes in countries around the globe, product shortages, healthcare workers sending out pleas for supplies, an infection count and a fatality count that rise every day. Surely, this can’t be happening to us in the United States in this day and age.

As I approach the mid-century mark of my life, and I reflect back on things I’ve seen, what I can say for certain is that we’ve been extraordinarily blessed. Sure, there have been struggles and tragedies and turning points like 9/11 that changed our lives. It’s not my intention to discount any of that. But, we’ve never in my lifetime really been asked to meet a challenge like this with the sacrifices now being asked of us.

For me, it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to give in to almost overwhelming sadness. My job requires me to be up to date on what’s happening. I’ve consumed so much information at this point it feels like a weight I’m carrying around, yet I know full well my weight is nothing compared to that of others, so I steel myself to carry on.

I’ve cried a lot lately. I’ve mentioned before that I cry at the drop of a hat anyway. I cry because the sadness is too much. I cry because I’m scared and I’m trying not to show it. I cry to release the stress. I cry because of things we’ve lost.

Perhaps it’s selfish to feel a sense of loss over the missed “extra” things. After all, that loss is nothing compared to the loss of life that’s occurring.

However, it is also human to feel that sadness, even grief, over the things we’re losing.

My husband and I had four road trips planned this spring and summer to take in concerts (one of our very favorite things to do) by groups we’ve never seen live. One of those is definitely not happening and my suspicion is that all of them will be lost. It may seem frivolous, but those road trips and concerts are our time to really connect with one another. That loss hurts.

What I think hurts even more, though, are my children’s losses.

It’s been bittersweet for me to recognize how things I’ve never personally chosen have come to mean so much to me because of my kids.

My daughter participates in competitive dance, so I’ve been forced to become a “dance mom.” That role makes me exceedingly uncomfortable because it forces me to do things that I don’t do well. At all.

The first time I went to one of her dance competitions, I was absolutely overwhelmed and felt completely incompetent. They still make me feel that way somewhat, even after years of doing them. But, I know how hard she works. I know how hard all those kids work. Knowing those events are very likely lost this year breaks my heart because I’ve grown to love everything about them.

My son participates in speech and debate. I’ve spent the last several months watching him refine his craft and develop what I think are brilliant pieces that have won at numerous meets, only to see the culminating events canceled.

Again, speech and debate is never something I personally participated in, but I’ve grown to love it. I have so much admiration for those kids who are able to express themselves so passionately and articulately. They’re amazing. The loss of the end of their season is, again, heartbreaking.

My eldest son was preparing to move away to the big city this spring, a step I’ve been encouraging him to take, as all parents ultimately must. That’s now completely up in the air.

Maybe that’s part of what’s so difficult about this — we have no idea how, or when, things will get back to normal. If they ever do. Will we ever again be as carefree as we were?

I know the sadness I feel for my kids and my family and the things we’ve lost is being replicated in home after home after home. It’s OK to feel that sadness.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Never in my lifetime has that cliché been proven more true than now.

This morning, while engaged in what has become part of my twice daily routine — sanitizing the high-contact areas of my home — I realized how much I’m missing human contact.

Like wrapping myself in my husband’s arms at the end of the work day. Or giving my mom a hug. The tears are flowing again as I write this because I honestly don’t know when I’ll again be able to give my mom a hug. Such a simple thing that means so much.

So, yes, I’ve cried about what we’ve lost.

But, I’ve also cried about what we’ve found, because I’m just overwhelmed at the amount of love shown by some people. To my children’s teachers — you know who you are — the concern and dedication you’ve shown to my kids, and all of our kids, has touched me more deeply than I can ever express. The emails, the Facebook posts, the YouTube videos, the sharing of resources — they all just show how amazing you are and how much we’ve taken you for granted.

I’ve cried thinking about the people working in healthcare and law enforcement and other emergency crews. They continue to go to work to protect all of us, even when they have families of their own who are also struggling with all of this. Thank you for your courage and dedication.

I’ve cried seeing little acts of kindness around our little community, with people truly trying to help one another through this. I’ve cried thinking of my friends who are small business owners and how this is impacting them, yet so many of them are still doing little things to help out the community at this time of uncertainty and fear.

I guess I’ve cried for all the things and people we’ve taken for granted, all the things and people we’ve come to believe were simply certainties of life. My tears are sad and happy and grateful and frightened and overwhelmed all mixed together.

My suspicion is that how I’m feeling is something many of us can relate to right about now.

I have no idea how things are going to unfold. So much is out of my control — which is really hard for a control freak like myself. All I can do is keep doing my part to keep us all safe and hope for the best.

For now, I’m sending my love and good thoughts to you all. Be careful out there.


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