Last night as our family gathered for Easter, by Zoom of course, my brother in law asked us if we would keep Zooming after this is all over. No one answered. There was a pause as we all considered the question. We looked at the squares, nine at times, and other times ten, depending on the grandchildren’s ability to stick with this futuristic and at the same time old fashioned sort of visit where we all stayed in one place, looking into one another’s faces, doing our best to celebrate what had been one of the strangest Easters ever.

As I ponder this question myself, the question of Zooming when the Pandemic passes, I cannot say for certain. Before I answer, I first need to know how I will pull off a birthday celebration special enough for my husband’s half century mark in less than a month. And I want to know if three weeks after that, I will get to hug my own mother on the day she turns 80. As I ponder all the things I am missing and all the things our children, our community and our world miss too, I realize it is hard for me to contemplate the after. Because this does not feel like a quick shot gun start sprint to me, more like a long marathon, and I have no idea when or where the finish line will be.

In a usual marathon, the runners have been training for months. We did not. As we slowly started our run, things began to change along the course, first by the hours, then by the day. Each day we must keep changing our mid-race preparations. Each day when I wake up, I put one foot on the ground and then the other, thinking ahead to what the day will hold because already I have learned to take each day as it comes.

Just one month into social distancing, I have learned so many things. I have learned how to utilize technology I never knew existed, I have learned to order my groceries online with efficiency, I have learned how beneficial a daily schedule is for my psyche, and I even learned how to make Easter special for my children when the Easter candy didn’t show up in my grocery order.

I am learning, often by the example of others, how to respond to this new normal with grace and with flexibility. The Family Promise staff, with Dana’s leadership, are doing these things daily in a response to help those in our community who are most vulnerable to this virus. Their quick and creative responses have inspired me and given me the courage to forge ahead. As is always the case, I find myself proud to be a part of such an engaged and meaningful organization.

I have learned that watching too much news is not good for me. The very things I learn by watching, I can hear through first-hand accounts of family, friends, and the families with whom I work. Loss of jobs, loss of businesses that may not come back, the inability to see spouses, parents and grandparents who are quarantined inside facilities, some with the virus present; the list goes on and on. Watching the news seems to instill, not only sadness in me but also fear, and fear is something I do not need right now.

Because instead of fear, I am choosing HOPE. The hope that from this strangeness, from this stillness, from this upheaval, something better will come. Most certainly we will all be changed, we already are, and I hope that the change will be for the better. During this time of stillness and reflection, I see clearly what part of my life is most important. I know because it is what I miss the most.

Oh sure I miss my favorite garlic lemon hummus from the Merc and a romantic dinner out with my husband on a special Saturday night at 715. But what I deeply miss is the power of human connection, the power of a touch or a hug. The ability to look into a friend’s eyes, not through a computer screen, but so close I see the colors of her irises, and the excitement or hurt she holds there. I miss feeling seen, really seen and the hand holding and hugs that come with that seeing.

I know that those things will come to us all again. Until then though, I will put one foot in front of the other as I make my way past the next mile marker, and I will appreciate all I am learning and loving along the way. I will hear those cheering me on from the sidelines and feel hopeful, knowing they are there with me, even though right now, as with most marathons, is not the right time for a hug.
Mary Kaczor
April 13, 2020

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