Never again will I ever take for granted smiling at a stranger, giving a hug to a loved one, laughing and connecting with friends, and making new ones. With COVID-19, we as a human species are in uncharted territory.
I spent the entire first week of this crisis in a moody state of up-and-down, fear-based anxiety. No amount of my usual go-to tools for coping – yoga, running, meditation or journaling – helped. I literally sat with my journal, frozen, not even able to form a sentence.
Part of it was the extra energy involved in having all three of my kids at home and my husband working from home. I was focused on keeping their spirits high and trying to stay positive for them.
I felt an enormous sadness for my daughter. She attends a boarding school and she was coming home knowing that it will be a long time before she sees most of her friends again.They are from all corners of the world, and the thought of not having their senior spring, a final ball, or graduation was heartbreaking, for her and me.
My son was also home, from college, and missing a tennis season that never started. He’s an adult, now back to living with his parents, under our house rules and guidelines. I feel for him, and his loss of freedom, and the struggles inherent in this lockdown. His father and I are stricter about isolation and social distancing than some of his friends’ parents, and I know that’s hard on him.
Our youngest is 13 and happy to have both of her older siblings home, but now she’s dealing with this long-term, unplanned invasion of her own space.
Even the dogs are restless. They’re wondering why all of the humans are home all the time now. They sense that something is different. The weather here in the Midwest seems to reflect the general mood: cold and rainy, wet and cold.
This week, though, things feel like they are starting to look up. The weather is finally shifting to Spring. I see sunshine and flowers. I can look out my window to my lovely magnolia tree starting to bloom. The kids are shifting too. All three of them got up and worked out – not together mind you, did I mention they are slightly over the family time? My 18-year-old daughter even made lunch for us, and my youngest started to clean up the paint-splattered, feather-strewn art room (something I thought I would never see).
Ahead of us, we have more weeks of social distancing (a phrase that I hope to never hear or say again when this is over). There will be up days and down days, but having this unexpected moment of closeness with my children has been wonderful. Watching them mature, laugh with each other, and learn the importance of physical exercise to setting healthy mood levels. Seeing them do their own laundry and helping to keep the house clean. Maybe most importantly, observing as they realize that others look at things differently in life, no matter what the circumstances, and we have to accept that, and know that while we can’t do anything about how others think and behave, we can empower ourselves to learn something new, rise above and keep moving forward without judgement.
I have traveled all over the world. I have hiked Machu Picchu, been on safari, and journeyed alone through Morocco with a driver who wanted to make me his second wife. I’ve bungee jumped, visited the Red Light District in Bangkok, swam in the Dead Sea, experienced a near kidnapping in Turkey, and done night and cave dives, in addition to having several near-death experiences (drownings, malaria, dengue fever and countless parasites). I have been around the wealthiest and some of the poorest people imaginable, and here is what I know for sure – everyone in the world is similar in the most basic ways. They all have hopes, dreams and feelings. They have wants and needs. Many simply want to be seen, heard and loved, and feel of value to their surroundings. Kindness is Everywhere and the human spirit is strong and connected, able to persevere and thrive no matter the situation.
We will get through this stronger and more resilient. It is a reset. A time to inventory our priorities, sit in stillness and silence, and see where our dreams take us.
It is my deepest wish and desire that we will all look back on this time with a small bit of gratitude. This may be one of the last times that we will all be together as a family without their boyfriends, girlfriends, summer jobs, college, internships, future spouses and all of life’s tasks and responsibilities. I am grateful for this moment in time. (I may need reminding that I wrote the above, possibly tomorrow? When my kids are glum, and I am tired and have resorted to watching Tiger King, again).