Not going to lie – after my Toastmasters meeting last night, which was excellent –and my speech about my writing was well-received–I had a bit of a dark turn.
The long timeline of what we are looking at to get past the pandemic is daunting. As much as I have interesting projects to contemplate, concerts and plays to watch, am financially fine (and even saving money), and try to live in the moment, just about every time I watch a show or a concert from the past, I have massive pains of loss for the “before times.”
Something about that gives me a few pangs of empathy for those people saying this is overblown, or wanting to rush getting “back to normal.” Because I have moments, too, where I wish I didn’t have to believe facts. Where wanting something to be true was enough to make it so. Where all I had to do to see a friend or go to a concert was to get in the car or buy a ticket. Where I could believe–if only for a moment or two–that I controlled my life wholly and completely.
But no, I’ve learned to trust only the worst case scenario. Anything else will be a pleasant surprise, likely the result of a lot of very hard and difficult work by a lot of people, and will not come without cost. It’s not helped by the fact that I have absolutely no faith in prayer, or that a deity is directing all of this “for a reason.” Sometimes, I wish I did, and could be comforted by it–although there is always comfort in knowing others are thinking with love about others in pain.
For the first time yesterday, I learned a friend was in the ICU with COVID-19. LIam was a beloved journalist and teacher, one of those guys in the SCA who know everyone. We worked together on the Pennsic Independent for a number of years. His articles were always thoughtful, his perspective deep. A few years ago he suffered a stroke and had been an a care home ever since. His life partners announced this on his Facebook page, and the outpouring of love was massive. What a legacy he has built, not just in the SCA, but in his community. That is the essence of a life well-lived, regardless of what will come. I have a treasured keepsake from him – a dragon egg he gave me, saying I had inspired him. It’s now taken a place along with other tokens important to me on my office sideboard.
And I heard today that a member of my company has tested positive for the virus. They were one of the few employees still going into our physical offices, and now all others who were in that office that day are being asked to not come in for 14 days. And so the circles narrow.
I do not believe in miracles. That which seems miraculous is usually the result of years of research, or of a community working together to pull off the seemingly-impossible–and we have both of those being brought to bear in this current situation, so not all is dark. But we can’t simply will an end into being.
I do know that my time on this planet is a gift. Sometimes the gift you get isn’t quite the gift you wanted, but railing on about it because of its lack of perfection is the height of privilege. Every single person on this planet is being faced with the fact that their quality of life right now is not what they would like it to be. Some are very used to this; others are not. For some, this is an inconvenience. For others, it can mean the end of existence. And for most of us, those who see only the former but not the latter are a source of stress and aggravation.
And now, I’m listening to a respiratory therapist, talking with joy about being able take a moment to dance ballet in the midst of the stress of his job, and saying, with confidence, that he and his fellow medical workers now know what they’re doing–what to respect, how to don and doff masks and other PPE, and that they feel supported by what the National Ballet of Canada had done by putting the ballet lesson online–that, there, is the work of community in the face of terror. That, there, is a miracle, because when the hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, we have a chance to save people, and we learn more about what can work to preserve life.
I want this to be over yesterday. I know it won’t be, but I still get up, every morning, hoping it might have been just a dream, and then sighing a little as I trudge downstairs to work. It’s only been 41 days–but it’s been forty-one days and (for now at least) I’m still here.