“The comeback is always stronger than the setback…..” Dr. Jill Murray
Time hangs. Suspended. Useless.
Weeks pass by….become months.
There is nowhere to go. No one to meet. No place to be.
The ‘new normal’ they say, seems quite ‘abnormal’ to me.
I am, tho, in my better moments, aware of an awakening, acutely attuned to an exaggeration of loss or longing, with intermittent fear, and boredom, mixed with breathtaking beauty followed by jolting grief. Moving through a sense of enormous appreciation to annoying irritability, with a rapid switch back to embracing wonder and profound gratitude…..has now become the norm. Blissfully calm, at peace one moment, on edge the next….up, then down. Thankful to string two days of centeredness together.
Can you relate?
My better self recognizes this time as an endowment to utilize in any fashion I choose. This imposed pause, an opportunity.
Life, I am learning, is rich in its simplicity. Like opting to spend a bright, but chilly April afternoon peeling and chopping vegetables for a thick, creamy butternut squash soup. The fragrance of sauteed garlic, onion, mixed with the poetic sound of tender piano tunes, filling my home. For a pre-dinner, two-person cocktail hour, I create a red pepper dip and organize ingredients to prepare a freshly concocted whipped delight: heavy cream, several heaping teaspoons of sugar, a dash each of almond and vanilla extract, to top our dessert.
Beater in hand, I am instantly drawn to a memory of my Mom in our small home, in her even smaller kitchen, standing at a narrow counter. Eleanora made her luscious whipped cream with these same ingredients. Always from scratch. No aerosol cans for my mother. As my mind slipped deeper into the image, I literally felt her standing aside me, hand gripping mine. In slow, circular motion, together we whipped until the liquid formed stiff peaks.
I missed her, deeply, at that moment. Remembered her in vivid detail.
When was the last time I allowed my Mom inside, spent moments together? Always too busy. Always something more to do. Something more important. What a gift to be present enough to allow her in.
On a recent grocery trip to a local farm, we followed what has become the standard protocol of placing the order by phone, providing a credit card number. Driving close to the farm entrance, we text that we have arrived, greeted by a masked and gloved someone who smiles with her eyes as she places the order inside the opened hatchback, as quick mask-muffled hellos and thank yous are exchanged. On the ride home, unusually quiet, Dennis sensed a shift in me and asked how I was doing.
I paused and took inventory. “It depends on the moment,” I responded.
What had been a “depending on the day” experience during the first few weeks of the quarantine had evolved, mostly from the fatigue of atrocious pandemic updates, to an onslaught of multiple emotions brimming at once, shifting in nanoseconds, clogging my heart and soul.
Dennis and I are indeed fortunate to share our lives together during this pandemic, have the ability to Zoom with family and friends on a regular basis, yet I feel isolated in my soul. I am inundated, swimming in loss. From the mundane missing of moving without concern through Whole Foods or the local pharmacy….to the soul injury that accompanies the inability to hug my children or embrace a dear friend.
I ache, deeply, for persons dying alone and for those who love them mourning alone. Imagining myself in either situation is beyond comprehension.
From the depth of that darkness of feeling rises an enormous appreciation for every single being who touches my life and the lives of those who matter to me. The grocery store clerk who every day runs the risk of developing the virus, as well as the truck driver who has delivered goods to my local supermarket; the family and friends who are healthcare workers and care providers, teachers; my dentist who performed an emergency procedure, just he and I in his otherwise empty office space; friends who offered masks; my son who brought from Boston paper towels, toilet paper and kleenex that we would have otherwise been without.
We have uncovered artistry and found unimaginable charm and beauty on our almost daily walks. My boredom is lessened with a visit to the enchanting Scarborough Marshes, the Baxter Woods in the center of Portland, the historic and peaceful Evergreen Cemetery, the magnificent Eastern Promenade overlooking Portland Harbor, the nooks and crannies of the Harbor piers, the profoundly beautiful Willard Beach with views of Portland Headlight in South Portland. Each location, free of motorized vehicles and human beings, plus the afforded luxury of time, extend the allure of enchantment as we escape our four walls and breathe the outside air.
Living in a condo, in a city, we have been challenged to navigate our shared space, forced to develop new skills when we hit a bump. We have never laughed so hard together or dug deeper into the tangled web of creating intimacy. We avoid the hard talk of “what if one of us gets sick?” We’ve been a comfort to the other when needed and have moments when, especially as introverts, miss our time alone.
I hear from many of you that your life pretty much reflects ours. You are on this turbulent ride with us. You are cautious, at times frightened, but like us, becoming keenly aware of your incredible resiliency.
What makes this fractured, unprecedented moment in time tolerable, is knowing we are sharing this experience together, that I can touch you, albeit virtually, and trust the magnanimity of our collective human spirit will lift us to the other side.
Stay safe ’til then.