It happened before the pandemic:
Seven years ago I buried two friends days apart. One to cancer. One to a freak accident. Grief changed for me in 2014. Grief became an emotion I no longer knew how to process. For myself. For others.
When time came to get past the past, the present showed up without remorse. Emotions trying to make their way to the top were stifled. No time for reckoning. Just do.
One life-changing moment after another. Walking a treadmill through a wave of death and despair. It doesn’t stop. The moment it’s time to pull the cord and slow down, the next wake comes. The cord plugs back in and it’s all taken in stride.
It began in the pandemic:
February. One month before. I spent what I hope isn’t the last time with my best friend. Out of town on work travel, we visited at her home. Took in museums and conversation. I wonder what February will bring next year.
March. One month in. I spent hour after salaried hour at home. Grounded. People are baking bread and growing plants. Finding time to reconnect to what they lost in their pre-pandemic lives. I can’t finish a task, a book, a thought of my own. I spend hours on calls, texts, emails and video chats where faces claim people’s happiness and replace it with pain. Holding space for people suffering more than me.
The recounting of a teenager in a grocery store being blamed for a global virus. Don’t bring that disease here. Compassion changed for me in 2016. Compassion became a feeling I no longer knew how to process. For myself. For others.
The wave of emotions around race and fear. Listening to young black voices retell confrontations with the Ku Klux Klan. Young Asian women asking why I have to fight to make my life matter. The haters hung blue flags to profess all lives matter. Blue shielded in racism. Anger changed for me in 2020. Anger is an emotion I no longer knew how to process. For myself. For others.
It happened in the pandemic:
June. Three months in. My emotions are commodities I can no longer bargain with or for. They are stocked up, but off the table. There is always more work to be done, more people to call, more voices to hear. More space to hold for people suffering more than me.
September. Six months in. I had three hugs. All at funerals. I buried two people a month apart. One to an illness. One to a freak accident. Sorrow changed for me in 2020. Sorrow is an emotion I no longer knew how to process. For myself. For others.
November. Eight months in. My best friend is diagnosed with cancer. Grounded. I can’t visit. She won’t talk about it. Suspending the reality of her illness. Of all the voices I hear, hers is the one I want most to hear. More space to hold for people suffering more than me.
January. Ten months in. I had one hug. With my mother. After telling her the news of my friend’s cancer. There is still more work to be done, more people to call, more voices to hear. The treadmill cord remains plugged in. It’s all taken in stride.
February. Eleven months in. The ice storms came. Power outages, people living in frozen homes. There is more work to be done, more people to call, more voices to hear. More space to hold for people suffering more than me.
May. Fourteen months in. I texted Tuesday. She hasn’t replied. Hers are the words I want to read most. Patience changed for me in 2021. Patience is a trait I no longer know how to process. For others. For myself.