And then I went outside and saw the “Bradford Pear snow” from our currently flowering tree. These trees, planted in abundance 20-30 years ago, are now officially labeled as “junk” trees and are slowly being removed. But they are also magic in their messiness. They remind me that spring is just around the corner.
A couple of days ago, I checked on one of my sons, who, along with his wife and my 13th grandchild-to-be, live in NYC.
My son’s reply, “Coughing a lot, running a temp. Really hard to breathe. Should I be worried???” Well, his sense of humor is intact and, of course, he was pulling my leg.
Yesterday, a daughter-in-law, who lives 50 miles from here, offered to run errands for us. I thought, “I’m not asking her to drive 100 miles to get something at the drugstore for me!” And yet, her gesture meant a lot–and a reminder that the younger and healthier need to do what they can for their older and far more vulnerable neighbors.
Today, a son who lives just outside London Facetimed us (interesting how that has become a verb). Apparently, England has decided to just let the virus run its course over there. Perhaps they should have checked with Iran first. Satellite images show mass graves being dug near a cemetery in a major city, with a pile of lime, used to tamper decay odors, nearby.
Many suspect that Iranian authorities are not telling the full truth about the number of those who have fallen ill and died.
Anyway, said British son mentioned they walked to their favorite pub for lunch yesterday and were the only ones there. Nonetheless, they are carrying on with many school activities and other social events.
We joked about my husband and I taking a trip over now to see them. Empty wide-bodied planes cross the Atlantic regularly–with empty passenger compartments but over-full cargo compartments, so why not? Well, we know why not, but it was a fun thought.
I sent my husband to the grocery store very early this morning, telling him, “If the parking lot is full, come home without shopping.” I gave him a minimal list, as we had agreed we would buy ONLY what we need for the next few days. I refuse to give in to the panic that has stripped the shelves of many grocery stores.
I am one of the lucky ones, and I worry all the time
But as I did so, I recognized how very, very lucky I am to be able to say that. We had returned home a couple of weeks ago from some time away to give my husband a quiet place heal after major surgery.
We engaged in a major re-stocking trip a couple of days later, before this panic began. I already had sufficient supplies of toilet paper and paper towels and my favorite sparkling water. I admit I don’t have hand sanitizer–we don’t use it normally, but do have plentiful supplies of hand soap, which is the preferable way to cleanse the hands anyway.
I did have a bundle of alcohol wipes but chose to send them to my husband’s office so the staff there could make use of them.
And I worry all the time.
A couple of days ago, I had my first-ever panic attack. It was raining heavily and had been for a while. I had been working on clearing out some necessary paperwork and had not looked out.
When I did, I saw that the narrow greenbelt behind us had turned into a raging stream. Our pool water was threatening to reach the rim as the overflow drain could not take out the excess with the city sewers overwhelmed by the rain.
I had spent part of the morning indulging in what has been a lifelong habit–reading through two national newspapers. I felt myself drowning in bad news.
I had learned too much about the inevitability of the pandemic, the unreal unpreparedness of the public health system in the US, and our tragic inability to test almost anyone (unless you are rich, famous, or near death.)
I was gripped with fear for my husband, squarely in the group more vulnerable to bad outcomes should he get it.
I worry about the children who are not getting their free school breakfasts and lunches and arranged for extra funding to the local agency here that serve that group.
I worry about many financially fragile people in the US who depend on those weekly paychecks to keep going who will not receive them as more and more venues shut down.
I worry about the financial health of many places of worship as they necessarily shut their doors for the time being, knowing this is the one place that is still fairly dependent on the weekly cash/check offerings to keep their lights on.
So, since then, I have forced myself to concentrate on breathing, on recognizing my place in our human existence. I also consider world history. At no time, and in no places has humankind ever been free from seriously tough times, nor have the individual humans who comprise humankind ever been free from potential and/or realized tragedies.
This is the nature of life in a world that has never promised ease. Even the most protected cannot fully protect themselves: witness the number of world leaders who have, for example, tested positive for this novel coronavirus.
“Bradford Pear Snow” offers hope
And then I went outside. And I saw the “snow” from our currently flowering Bradford Pear tree. These trees, planted in abundance 20-30 years ago, are now officially labeled as “junk” trees, and are slowly being removed.
But they are also magic in their messiness. They remind me that spring is just around the corner.
When I went out, my little dog, a VERY FURRY Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, accompanied me. This “love-sponge” breed tend to stick like glue to their humans, so he is my moment-by-moment shadow. When we came back in, he carried on his fur-covered little feet many of the “snowdrops.”
Now, I had just swept the floor. Not ten minutes before. I am sure by early evening, I’ll have a large crop of these all over the floor again.
So easy to get frustrated. And yet, those little “snowdrops” remind me that life does win. God, as the giver and ultimate source of life, does indeed win.
I wish the Holy One would wipe away all human suffering, but that outcome apparently is not and never has been the game plan. Instead, we struggle, get sick, endure poverty, live with often frightening uncertainty, and face both local and worldwide scary forces all the time.
So I am back to taking my deep breaths, praying for so many, making plans to help as many I can in all the ways I can, and will soon share a corned-beef-and-cabbage dinner with my husband and my sister, whom we invited to get her out a bit. There will be none of the usual hugs when she comes in, but we will share a good meal and genial conversation even as we practice “social distancing” with one another.
May you all have your “Bradford Pear Snow” moments as we do what we can to hunker in place and slow down the spread Covid-19.
Photo Credit: (c) Christy Thomas, all rights reserved.