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.

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4 thoughts on “Naming our Losses {#lifeinthetimeofcorona}

  1. If only it had just been forty days! I think you’ll get a connection for forty in the Scriptures with a complete period of testing, as in the 40 years of the wilderness. But I’ve had it suggested that it can be connected with cleansing, as with the Ark. Whatever, it gives us a challenge to come out of it changed in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Grace be with you all.

  2. I still have the “Abide” mixed media art-effort you helped me create at the retreat 2015! Now you’ve inspired me again with your paper collage. I too miss the hugs and kisses, games and stories, etc. with our granddaughters. FaceTime is great, but not the same. We have to be especially careful because their mom is a hospital doctor and Steve’s immune system is compromised due to his liver transplant (anti-rejection meds). Such “hardships” hardly seemed worth mentioning when people are losing loved ones or livelihoods or both. Thank you for reminding me what is true nonetheless: “Each loss we face is valid and matters to the heart of God.” May you enjoy a glorious lunch, Jody, soaking up Mary Becca’s presence–even from a distance!

  3. Laurie Klein says:

    This: ” Each loss we face is valid and matters to the heart of God.” Can we hear this often enough? So many goodbyes, on so many levels, for everyone in this world.
    And four friends battling the virus, oh my goodness. Rejoicing they pulled through!
    And yes, don’t our hearts ache to hold our grandchildren. I think of you and precious, long-awaited Mary Becca.
    Thanks for sending out your thoughts today, Jody.
    ps That square paper in your collage is a William Morris design, yes? I LOVE his work. Blessings on your day, my friend, and the soul-scope of creative play (and work) you’ll conceive this week. 🙂

    1. Jody Lee Collins says:

      Oh thank you Laurie, I knew this would resonate with so many readers. I get to actually see Mary Becca tomorrow, via a backyard social distancing lunch date. Thank goodness. (And yes, that is a William Morris design you spied. I cut out the print from a magazine. You have such a trained artistic eye :-).

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