Anyone who knows me well will tell you that the quarantine isn’t such of a much for me – I am, at heart, an introvert who rarely leaves her house, and now, instead of my friends being annoyed with me for it, they’re applauding me for it. It’s finally okay for me to prefer reading to people-ing.
I’ve been training for this my whole life. LOL.
That’s not say it has been without hardships. I miss my parents miserably. One lives in Lethbridge and the other lives on the Island. Both are in their 70s, and the fear of them catching this and me never getting to see them again in real life is physically hurtful to me, makes it hard to breathe – they are my bedrock, my touchstones and my safe places.
My house used to be a chaotic riot of loud music and video games and inappropriate jokes and potato chips, as my son’s core group of friends spent tons of time here. I’m not yet done crying over having to tell them they can’t be here anymore, as much for their safety as for ours. (A little shout-out to my Littles: Stu, Adrian, Alex, Michael, Lucy and Lexy: when this is over, I am going to cook you ALL of the EVERYTHING! And Shado, remembering you brings me joy, too).
Thankfully, my hermit tendencies taught me a thing or two about how to be alone without being lonely, and the pandemic has taught me a gratitude beyond anything I’ve ever known.
The most important pre-lockdown learning, for me, is knowing the difference between phone calls and texting - this is a message for my young people in particular. In exactly the same way that a phone call doesn’t compare to meeting in person, a text message does not compare with a phone call. If there is an existing history, hearing someone’s voice triggers memories of connection, love, mutual effort and acceptance. If there is no existing history, hearing someone’s voice creates the start of that same thing – the inflection they use, their tone, their laughter, when they pause … and when they get so revved up they interrupt in excitement and you know you’re speaking the same language of the heart.
As a writer, it pains me say that cold words in print never compare to actually experiencing another human being. So pick up the damned phone and call your parents. Lol (see, that would’ve been funnier if you heard me laugh while I wrote it, instead of just reading lol).
Which brings me to the gratitude piece.
How do I know I’ve lived a good life, and done well by my Higher Power, despite all the ugliness in the world right now?
Because, as I brutalize my poor little phone with constant use, I am hearing the wonderful ways my People are stepping up, being kinder, more understanding, gentler, and really, really bringing the funny (I can’t share the funny part, it’s usually not PC, they are MY friends, after all. LOL).
For example, a phone call taught me that Safeway now has tents in front of the store to protect people from inclement weather in case the store hits maximum number of patrons and people have to wait outside to be let in – that’s wildly thoughtful. I’ve learned that Lea Wilman of EZ Rock is a delightful person with whom to converse. I’ve learned that my cops are quite correct in public scenarios – but very human and hilarious when you take the time to talk to them one-on-one. The list goes on and on. Truly, I can’t begin to list it all.
The most significant one is how many people are calling me asking how to help, even as they struggle themselves. You, yes YOU, people are my stone-cold heroes. You make my heart ache with unfathomable joy. Keep it coming!
And, to bring it around full circle, the pandemic has taught me to be grateful for the agonizing hurt of missing my parents, because I have them to miss, and oh, how lucky I am to have them – my bedrock, touchstones and safe places. I am grateful, despite the sick hurt of losing him, for the 14 years of joy my Shado dog shared with me. I am grateful the Littles feel at home with me and share their lives with me, even if they can’t just now. And ever, ever so grateful that they are all well and healthy and whole. And words can't express how grateful I am that my son is home and safe with me.
And therein lies the largest learning – you won’t be seeing a lot of rants from me in the future. Has recent news made me angry? You’d better believe it. Hopping mad, BEYOND furious, ENRAGED.
But I have found, for myself at least, that the greatest power and the greatest protection against what can be a brutal world is stone-cold gratitude.
Rage is weak. Empathy, love, and compassion, especially in a place of pain, are magically transformative.
So: Dear Pandemic: I loathe you with all that I am, but I decline to let you make me less than I am, so I thank you for what you taught me. I hope my gratitude hurts you.