Editor’s Note: While this blog serves as my professional digital portfolio and archive, documenting and preserving my words and ideas in my role as a high school librarian and lifelong educator, it is also highly personal, and I have written essays in the past addressing issues such as nepotism, inequality, poverty, identity, among others. This is one of those “other’ posts. My sons are 15 and 20 years old, my students all in high school.
I have a few thoughts I need to share with you. It’s almost three in the morning and I can’t sleep, again. Just about every day nowadays, I break down and have a cry. Usually it’s brought on by another news story about someone I don’t know, dying overnight in the fight with this menace we are all forced to know now. Other times, my tears are flowing before I’m even sure what I am crying about. They just roll down my cheeks as I drink my coffee, scrolling through the news, reading tweets and memes connecting death and incompetence, ruin and irony, loss and lying.
You know me. I’ve always been a sentimental sort, in touch with my feelings, easily manipulated by a melancholy chord progression, willing to shed a tear for a cartoon robot or a superhero dissipating into CGI nothingness . But this is different.
I am grieving. Like so many people. I am not just sad, but in real deep grief.
And not just because of the deaths brought on by the pandemic, which would be cause enough. I am grieving because some days it does feel like we are all losing at everything. Gone is our way of life, our every days, our sense of normalcy. We are losing money, jobs, houses, futures. But most of all, I am grieving because I see you grieving. I see you mourning and helpless. I hear your questions and feel your frustrations. I see you sinking into depression, beginning to believe that nothing will ever be good again.
This sense of panic that you feel from this pandemic came early, like a jump shock in a horror movie. Before we knew what was happening, we learned that the monster was already in our home. And while we couldn’t see it, it was moving among us, stealthily. This monster had a name and an identity, but it was also something new, and therefore, unknown. Worse than that, how we (the adults) handled it, especially in our country, made you feel lost and confused. We kept giving you conflicting information about the symptoms, how contagious it was, how deadly it was, whether or not we should wear masks or gloves.
And now we’ve been telling you for a month and a half that the world has shut down. I can see that you feel like this will never end, like we are losing control of the situation. But I am here to tell you that this is not the case. I’m going to tell you something adults hardly ever admit to kids or themselves. The truth is, we lose control of the situation all of the time. In big ways and in small. We get sick, we get lost, we lose track of time. But we’re a curious and clever bunch. We find our way through things, we make sense of the chaos, and eventually, we find our way home … or else we make a new one wherever we land. We conquered the planet in this manner, and you will make it through this trial if you remember that.
I have five decades of conscious experience at my disposal to sift through to try and make sense of this crisis. In my lifetime, I have had personal medical setbacks, watched loved ones suffer through Alzheimer’s, AIDS, cancer and all those other ungodly maladies that come for us. I’ve lost family and friends to violence, drug addiction and mental illness. And of course, most recently, lost my beloved mother, to the genetic specter known as aneurysms, which has claimed several family members. Loss is inevitable. But you cannot let that emptiness fester. You must find a new seed to plant, work the barren ground left behind.
One thing that has given me hope, is how we have responded to this crisis. Not our government, but the people. Us. You and me. Your friends and mine. Our family. In the face of this contagion, we have ceased to operate in the ways we used to, so that we can fight off this invisible monster which threatens our most valuable resource which, of course, is each other. The whole world is willing to sacrifice everything, it seems … for each other. If I have learned anything about life and living, it is that as long as we have each other, we shouldn’t give up hope.
Finally, I would like to remind you that it is okay to cry, to grieve, to mourn. Your pain is real, your loss is great. We are still unsure about how we go forward, still not sure how to beat the monster or how many more of us it will take with it. We don’t know. That’s the other thing that adults rarely admit to kids or themselves. We just don’t know.
But I promise you, something else will grow in this empty space we all feel. Let us plant wisely, and tend to our gardens.
I love you.
P.S. In the age of social media, we often get requests on another platform (FB, in case you must know) to share information that could help others in need. Below is the text and link of one such viral campaign.
Could 2 friends or family members just copy and repost? I am trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening. Times like this are extremely hard for people with depression.
Thank you for stopping by.
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