I think most of us are experiencing a sense of deep longing for normalcy, for an end to this unending battle we are waging. A battle against coronavirus; a battle for a return of freedom; a battle for rights and protections for people of color. We are grieving for all we have lost; we are grieving against all the inequities we never seem to overcome.
I deeply long for my sons. I long to hold them, to breathe them in, to be held in turn. I want to put my head on each one of their shoulders and just rest there. I want the silly and mundane moments, the quiet moments of shared space. I want to see them all with Gracie, let her know she has a bigger family than she might now believe. She adores seeing Luke on his weekly visits, but she has no idea there are two more brothers who live somewhere that has become impossibly far away.
I cling to my healthy lifestyle as my anchor, as seemingly the only thing in my day to day existence right now that I can control. Get enough sleep but not too much. Dress for the day as if an unexpected guest might drop by. Eat good, wholesome foods and restrict portion sizes. Exercise carefully and consistently—and completely enjoy the weekend off. Get outside, breathe in the air, listen to the birds. Smooth the fur on Gracie’s back frequently, and draw in her puppy smell. Get down on the floor so she can climb onto my lap. It is all part of my healthy lifestyle—a holistic approach to ensuring that I am taking care of myself emotionally and spiritually as much as I am physically.
And still, I feel this deep longing, this sense that my well-being is fragile right now. Do you feel that way as well? I have cried twice since COVID came into our lives. Both times were gut-wrenching, the tears of someone who lost their dearest friend. Instead, these were mundane reasons: a birthday spent alone and a disagreement with our sons during a Google Hangouts call. I realize that I can either ignore the grief I feel and continue to say I am fine—or I can acknowledge it. Bring it into the light of day. Be a little more real with our sons and with my husband and with myself. That is healthier, I think.
We don’t have to be strong every moment of every day. I want to be; I want to be the anchor that gives other people hope. Perhaps, though, acknowledging our own fragility is a different kind of strength. Perhaps it allows other people to be honest with themselves in turn. Perhaps it gives them comfort to realize that we all carry pain and hurt and loneliness inside us. Letting it out doesn’t diminish our humanity or our value one little bit. Instead, it gives us the resilience to endure and to heal.