My family has regular discussions about current events and while I don’t watch televised news, I read widely each day about what’s going on in the world.
Even still, a steady diet of nothing but dire reports is anything but good for a heart.
So each day I try to focus on some happy moments as well.
Let me share a few with you.
This past week I’ve gotten a good bit of outdoor work done, sweated tons and walked farther and longer than usual.
Our weather turned from rainy and excessively humid to sunny and actually pretty dry (for Alabama!).
My chickens are laying well and our little local produce man had watermelons and peaches.
This afternoon I’ll hop in my not-very-big above ground pool and cool off between choreswhile Frodo the goat watches me.
Black-eyed Susans are blooming by my mailbox.
I had lunch with a friend.
And I had a video chat with four other amazing bereaved mamas.
Finding at least one thing each day for which to be thankful helps my heart hold onto hope.
I make a conscious effort to breathe in beauty and enjoy those moments.
When I was fresh on this journey it was hard to receive anything as “good”. Everything was filtered through the lens of loss. So I understand if you think this is a futile exercise.
But eventually I was able to see more than my son’s absence and feel more than pain and sorrow.
Life is still life and there are still beautiful moments. Sunlight through the trees, a baby’s laugh, friends and family around the table, flowers, furry friends, a favorite meal, or the perfect cup of coffee are all things I enjoy. They don’t take away the sorrow of missing my son but they are worth celebrating.
I’m learning to hang onto them with both hands and to cherish them as a gift.
Before Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I could be awfully self-righteous.
I could not understand how some people (notice how I dehumanized them by lumping them together) couldn’t just act right, do right, pick themselves us by their bootstraps and get on with life.
Now I am more apt to wonder, “What awful thing has happened to this person?” instead of “What is WRONG with them????” when I notice someone acting a bit out of character or not quite living up to their commitments or somehow missing the mark of societal expectations.
Take all this coronavirus craziness.
Some of us are being more cautious.
Some of us consider caution a sign of insecurity or fear or lack of faith.
None of us have enough information (really!) to make an informed decision.
Lack of testing, lack of research, lack of transparency and not enough time means we are all essentially guessing what is the most prudent and appropriate individual response to this threat. I’m choosing not to judge anyone’s choices even if they are different than my own.
I’ve felt judged many times in the past six years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
People who haven’t buried a child really don’t understand how it changes EVERYTHING. But that doesn’t stop them from offering an opinion or advice or making comments on social media that are clearly intended to correct or shame me.
Now that things are opening up on the back side of blanket stay-at-home orders I’m probably going to be judged again.
What people don’t know about me-what they can’t see and can’t know unless they ask-is I suffer from an autoimmune disease. The treatment impacts my ability to fight off infections. It lowers my white blood cell count. It makes me susceptible to things that other folks never have to worry about.
I had latent (non-contagious and asymptomatic) tuberculosis a couple years ago.
I’m not part of population that would normally be considered “at risk” and only found out about it because it’s protocol to test for TB before prescribing some of the more potent medicines used in treating rheumatoid arthritis. I still have no idea where I was exposed to it.
Eight months of antibiotics with unpleasant side effects later I was disease free.
Based on first person accounts of what it feels like to have Covid19 (not even considering the most dire outcomes) that was a cakewalk.
So I’m not standing in line to try my hand at surviving this new threat.
And I have other, very real, very painful, experiences which inform my choice to be more cautious. I know that regardless of odds, of treatment and of what a heart HOPES will happen, things don’t always go as planned or as predicted.
I know the horror death leaves in its wake. I know the toll trauma takes on a life left behind.
My family has already had to deal with more than I could have imagined and I will not purposely expose them to something else if I can help it.
So regardless of local, state or national guidelines, protocol or recommendations I will be mostly staying home.
It’s not lack of faith.It’s not fear. It’s prudence based on experience.
You can make a different choice and I will absolutely positively respect that.
I don’t often pull the “you never know if today may be the last day for someone you love” card.
But I’m going to do it now.
People. Just stop.
Your need for a latte does not trump the necessity to stay away from potential sources of infection. Your need to socialize with friends because you “just can’t stand to sit inside one more minute” is not an excuse for ignoring requests from health care professionals to stay home.
Your careless and carefree attitude is putting others at risk.
It’s entirely possible that if or when you contract Covid19 it’s no more than a miserable two weeks. But it’s also entirely possible that the person you give it to might die.
Trust me, you don’t want to be the one who brought it home to your mama, your daddy, your spouse or your child.
There is nothing easy about watching someone you love suffer. It’s even harder to be forbidden from sitting next to his or her bedside, holding a hand, wiping a fevered forehead.
Dominic died almost six years ago. It is no easier on my heart this minute than it was then.
This is not a joke, not overblown, not a government conspiracy or a hoax perpetrated by whomever you think might do such a thing.
Do you love your family and friends?
REALLY love them?
If you do, thenSTAY HOME!
For those of you (like two of my children) who perform essential work during this crisis, thank you.
And may God place a hedgeof protection around you and those you love.
I was talking to my dad the other morning as I do every morning.
We catch one another up on personal news and then turn to the world at large.
After another day of dismal and disconcerting headlines I asked my retired fighter pilot/flight instructor/still flying/recently bereaved dad, “So, how are you REALLY doing?”
He replied, “I’m flying the plane.”
He told me the first rule of flying was: NO MATTER WHAT– never, never, never stop flying the plane.
Even if the only thing you can do is fly it into a crash.
Focus on the essentials.
Don’t be distracted by incidentals.
Save all your energy for the things you CANdo something about and ignore the things you can’t control.
As he was talking I realized that somewhere in my 56 years he had taught me this lesson well although he’d never taught me to fly.
So that’s what we are doing.
It’s what we’re all doing.
We are taking care of the things we can and trying hard to not waste any energy on things we can’t. We’re checking on one another, encouraging one another, making sure each one is getting proper nutrition and rest and refusing to sweat the small stuff.
I can’t see my ICU nurse daughter because she’s possibly been exposed to the virus and I am immunosuppressed.
So I dug through my stash and sent her and the foster kids she helps her best friend parent a box brimming full of random craft supplies to stave off boredom.
It’s not much but it’s something I CAN do.
I’m walking every day and keeping my cardiovascular system as fit as possible.
I’m writing and posting on several public Facebook pages I maintain. One is dedicated to bereaved parents, another to general spiritual encouragement and a third to educational resources for parents who suddenly find themselves having to teach their children at home when they were used to sending them off to school.
I have cleaned out a few random corners that should have been cleaned months (let’s be honest-years!) ago. And I’m checking in on friends and neighbors.
My public health officer son is running crazy so I don’t bombard him with texts or messages but I try to shoot him at least one encouraging word every day. He calls when he can and just last evening treated us to a FaceTime session with our little Captain.
Seeking joy wherever we can find it is part of our daily routine. And nothing says “JOY!” like this happy smile.
My husband is working from home (THAT’S an adjustment for this women who loves her quiet time!) so I fixed him up a work station and make sure I don’t interrupt his conference call by hollering something from the kitchen (or vacuuming under his feet). He’s making some adjustments to my preference for light-hearted viewing in the evenings and saving his heavier, action-packed choices for after I go to bed.
Kind of a trial run for his retirement.
The son that lives close by has become our errand runner and grocery store shopper.
He picks up what we need, being extra careful to clean his hands and clothes before bringing it into the house. He shopped for our elderly neighbor as well. He’s doing his part to maintain a buffer between those of us who may be more susceptible and the virus.
Flying the plane means we are keeping our wits about us, doing the important and necessary things.
But it also means we are finding moments to take a breath, enjoy a laugh, watch a sunset, go for a walk, listen to the birds sing, play with the dog or cats, share a funny meme, and eat meals together.
We can’t control the world but we can control our reaction to what it tosses our way.
We can’t guarantee our safety but we can choose to do things that enhance it.
Four kids, seven and under, one mama and a tiny house survived one solid month of alone time.
The chicken pox made its rounds in our local weekly Bible study and pretty much every kid that hadn’t had it got it. So it wasn’t long until more than half the class was home riding out the wave of itchy, blotchy skin, fever and discomfort.
We couldn’t get it all at once. Oh no!
It went through my four one at a time with a bit of overlap so we were slathering on calamine lotion by the quart, taking baking soda and oatmeal baths several times a day and watching waaaayyyy more television than any of my children had seen so far in their lives.
It took slightly over a month for us to finally be free of it and I’ll admit it tried my patience. I spent a lot of time looking through the windows at a busy world outside, longing to be part of it.
There was a wisteria vine in my across-the-street neighbor’s yard that crept up the telephone poll outside the living room window.
I watched as it went from brown twig to wisps of green and finally dripping purple in all its glory while I was stuck inside trying to keep unwell children happy and stop them scratching themselves into infection.
I lost that spring. We all did.
But we came out the other side just fine.
I lost another spring in 2014.
And this time it was absolutely, positively NOT fine.
It’s still not fine.
Because of both springs, I will tell you this: If staying home means I can be part of the solution to the spread of Covid 19 and perhaps spare another family a lost spring, a lost loved one, a frightening brush with death-I’m happy to do it.
My personal comfort, sense of freedom, arrogant assumption that I am the exception to the well-intentioned and common sense advice of healthcare professionals is a tiny, tiny price to pay in order to slow down the pace of this disease so those who need extra attention, hospitalization and intervention get it.
Losing a spring is an unfortunate happenstance.
Losing a son, a daughter, a brother, sister, mother or father is a tragedy.
Hey-I survived over a month with four itchy, irritable children and no internet, no food delivery, no grocery pick up, no online buddies-you can manage a couple weeks.