We’re all operating at the limits of our human existence.
You, me, and everybody else in this pandemic.
None of us has been here before, not even my friend Jane and she works in public health and doesn’t stress about flying into a country with an Ebola outbreak.
I was lucky because Jane texted me from Africa in February when the first community transmission case was announced in California. She told me how to prepare and urged me to act quickly. Without her advice, my awareness would have come to pass much more slowly. And I am lucky to still have a job and that it’s one I can do from my home.
But I’ve been laid off before so I understand that pain and how it must be greatly amplified in this time of global uncertainty.
My heart hurts for everyone out there scared and feeling so alone.
And that brings me back to operating at our limits.
Each day is a struggle now for many people.
Scattered attention, lurking gloom, and the pain of the very human stories behind the headlines break our days into hazy moments and entire lost chunks of time, not to mention the very real life being lived by those key personnel still reporting to work in the public, helping us to continue living safely and in isolation. (THANK YOU.)
And those headlines? That isn’t a “death count” or a “body toll”: those numbers represent very real people – grandmas and dads and sisters and uncles and children.
No death is an easy one, especially not now.
When my mom died, we surrounded her, singing her home. There are no songs happening in COVID ICUs. Death has been reduced to a solitary experience. These moments of simplicity are devastating in their significance. I don’t even want to think about our collective trauma that will need to be unpacked in the years to come. The tear well will never be dry.
Yet we look for hope because surely there must be some – and there is.
This morning, I was oddly heartened to see that in Santa Cruz, where our beaches have been closed for 10 days, people took to the ocean promenade in Pleasure Point and graffitied their sadness … in chalk, writing of their love for the ocean. A strange thing to do for certain: walk down to the ocean at night and scrawl “I love you” and “I miss you” and “Heaven can wait” with green and pink and blue chalk in front of the yellow police tape barring the stairs down to the sea.
“We are building a better world,” someone else wrote. I like to think that we are.
But it’s going to take a while. First, we have to get through this part. And so many of us feel helpless as we sit and wait through this part.
Every beginning has an ending in it. Perhaps this is ours.
Say good-bye to the old world. The new world is revealing itself. It’s way off on the horizon but it’s there.
Maybe you should find some chalk and go write your sadness on the pavement where the rain, like tears, can wash it away.
I love you. I miss you. Heaven can wait.
Keep rowing for the shore. We’re going to get there.