Naming our Losses {#lifeinthetimeofcorona}


IMG_20200501_080547When Washington State brought the country’s first case of novel Coronavirus to the US, we had no idea what had begun. While the sudden deaths of loved and aged family members was a shock, the nursing home tragedy was still an hour and a half away from where I live.

Things moved quickly, tho’. Suddenly the virus was way too close to home and there were deaths of a different kind, no less significant. Travel plans were curtailed and questioned everywhere. A writer’s retreat I’d been looking forward to for a year was prayerfully and tearfully cancelled. I would grieve for weeks.

Folks were elbow tapping each other the last time we were together at church. And just like that, a week later we were under #stayathome orders.

The last time I was able to get a latte at my favorite family-owned coffee shop I stood in line with folks outside (each of us on our blue-taped line), chatting about the sudden changes. Gatherings of more than 10 people were cancelled overnight and those aged 65 and over (raising my hand) were cautioned to stay safe inside.

Most significantly I was heartsick about not seeing my children and grandchildren. We were expecting a visit from my son’s out-of-town family over Spring Break; needless to say, that didn’t happen. My daughter’s newest pride and joy, Mary Becca, did some adorable thing each week and I counted down the days without seeing her in person. While I’m grateful for the daily photos my daughter has been texting, you know how fast a baby changes….

Well, we’ve pivoted, to use the latest term. Virtual visits with friends and loved ones have proliferated thanks to Marco Polo and Zoom calls. “Church” sprang up via Facebook Live and video chats now replace in-person conversations. Yes, life in the time of quarantine has had a weirdness all its own.

On May 4th, 40 days from our first #SelfQuarantine guidelines, our Governor began a return to sort of normal, definitely new. There will be phases, the end of which could take us into July. I don’t even want to think about how long away that is.

….

Quarantine is from the Latin ‘quarantina’ for 40.

Forty days in the Biblical narrative has always connoted some kind of cataclysmic change–Noah’s 40 days and nights of rain, Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, His reappearance in the 40 days after His Resurrection. Each period was marked by a definite before and a very particular after.

According to the Liturgical calendar, we are now in the season of Easter. It seems appropriate and wildly significant that we too would be changed on the other side of this sudden and drastic turn of events.

A lot has happened in forty-plus days, sometimes at warp speed. We can hardly keep up, never mind process all that we are grieving. But it would unfair for us to compare losses in a time like this. I have four friends at church that took sick with #covid19 and thankfully recovered. A dear pastor who lives out of town said she spent 10 days in bed, dreaming through the window. We have all been affected, whether we know a family who lost a loved one, had someone ill and recovered or whether we are simply heartsick in another way.

  • Children had to say goodbye overnight to classmates and playmates at school.
  • Seniors who graduate this year had activities yanked right out from under them, not the least of which is commencement for the class of 2020.
  • Small businesses have shuttered their doors and thousands may never open, including my favorite coffee shop.

To say because no one I know has died in this pandemic, that it pales in comparison to the ache to see my grandchildren would be unfair. Each loss we face is valid and matters to the heart of God. The playing field is equal for all and every lesson we remember from this time is all gift.

Forty days is hardly an eternity, but it can bring a change on the other side if we let it. May we remember the hard-won lessons from #lifeinthetimeofcorona, to take nothing for granted, rejoice in the smallest pleasures and treasure the people in our lives, those who are close and those far away.

Dear God, may it be so. Amen.

*****

These thoughts aren’t nearly as compelling on the computer screen as they were in my head, but I decided to hit ‘Publish’ nonetheless. I hope they provide a glimpse of what I meant here, that there is no scale for how deeply we feel the losses we’ve been facing–they all matter to God. And to us.

Playdates with God–Seattle Sojourn

A Playdate with God, as my friend Laura B likes to call them, 
can be to someplace special, or maybe they’re visits to places in your own backyard.  
Mine came after a visit to the doctor in Seattle with my husband.
We made the best of it AND headed to Pike Place Market
Sooooooooo, the tour bus broke down at the foot of 
the street at the end of Pike Place Market
The tourists were blessed with a lovely shady tree 
(directly behind me–you’ll have to imagine it 🙂
Husband and I ate at a deli and took window seats to watch the crowds across the old brick streets as they perused the handmade goods. 
(We bought nothing–prices have REALLY gone up.)
The original Starbuck’s, ca. 1971
(with a stand up bass player and mandolin)
still very cool.
Le Panier bakery case–the first place I visited after getting a latte
at the Starbuck’s, waaaaaay back in 1984.  
Bought a brioche and sat on the curb to people watch.
Best pastries EVER.
In case you needed proof
Bucket o’ dahlias
the NOT pricey flowers–still $5.00 and $10.00
Waterfront view with the new ferris wheel
interesting columns in the Market

 

 

 

I’m beginning to notice architecture-ish stuff more–
all those lines and geometry
well, of course there are people at Pike Place Market
the regular kind
and the pretend kind.  “I’m fine, how are you?”
No shortage of opinions in Seattle
Last view, across Victor Steinbreuck Park,
the totem pole and out to Puget Sound.

To Be 94 {a #poem}

I’d sure like a cup of coffee.
The grounds go in the top, but where?
And here is the glass pitcher
6 cups full of water
but I don’t remember
where to pour it.

My mind is like a leaky bucket,
a sad sieve that saves 
less and less these days,
an empty, worn-out basket.

If I could stop up the holes,
plug the places
where my mind has slipped out
perhaps I could remember 
where to pour the water.

I DO remember this–
I’d sure like a cup of coffee.

~~~~~~~~
Caring for my mother in law who is at home with us… Changes are coming faster than we would all like.
It is hard for us to watch, but it must be awful for her.  Writing in this space helps.