The gift of time.
Today I am grateful for friends old and new; for the joy, wisdom and hope they bring to my life.
For old friends that have supported me through my foibles and follies, laughed, cried and celebrated with me. Loved me at my worst and cheered me at my best. For new friends who have welcomed and supported me.
Because of the kindness and pervading goodness of friends, I dare to believe that people are inherently decent and kind; that good always triumphs over evil. That bright rays of the future are even now breaking through the threatening clouds.
Today I am grateful for motherhood; for my own mother, for the opportunity to be a mother, for the lessons learned.
Motherhood is the most challenging of relationships, diametrically opposed and inextricably linked. The older I am, the more I regret my unkindness to my own mother and the more forgiving I am of the unkindness of my children. Maybe that’s just the way of things.
If there is one thing we can all agree on about this virus, this may be it. We just don’t understand CoVid-19.
Even with my background as a biochemist, I have trouble knowing what to believe about CoVid-19. In spite of all the hard work and the progress our scientific community has made, there are still more questions than answers. This virus is not like any we’ve seen before. CoVid 19 just doesn’t play by the rules; in fact, we don’t know what the rules are.
We tend to think of infectious disease as following a linear, or deterministic pattern. In other words, if I have the virus and I infect three people, then those three people infect three more, etc. But there have been instances in which many more people contracted the disease than the model would predict. The most well known example is that of the 61 member choir practice in Mt. Vernon, Washington on March 10 in which 53 contracted the virus and two died. Conversely, other gatherings of similar numbers, venues, climates, and age groups did not produce this high rate of infection. https://bit.ly/3cQcwgJ
It now appears that the virus can spread in clusters, some think by “super-spreaders” who are especially efficient at spreading the virus. But there is no way to know what makes someone a “super spreader.” There may be some as-yet undetermined characteristic that makes an individual especially infectious. Or, it could be that there are not “super spreader individuals”, but “super-spreader events” where people are singing, coughing, exercising, etc, especially in close, poorly ventilated spaces. https://bit.ly/33BnnYF
Think of the virus as second hand smoke. The closer you are, the more you inhale. So there’s no guarantee that you won’t inhale the smoke if you are 6 feet away, especially if you are in a poorly ventilated space and/or the smoker is coughing, talking loudly, etc. Similarly, even if you are outside, fresh air won’t protect you from the spray of virus from the shouting fan next to you in the bleachers. We can easily distance ourselves from the offending smoker. However, unlike the smoker, the infected person may be asymptomatic, have tested negative a week ago and is now positive, or be in the first few days of the incubation period. The CoVid positive person can look and feel perfectly healthy.
It is true that the death rate is low and some groups are more likely that others to have a serious infection. But recovered patients are experiencing long-term damage to heart, liver and lung as well as damage to hearing and cognitive function. Some of it appears to be non-reversible. https://mayocl.in/3nqPTUL
And there are so many unanswered questions. Can you get the virus more than once? Are there in utero effects? When will a vaccine be available and how effective will it be? What will be the effect of seasonal flu on the virus?
No one knows. But I do know what to do. Sadly, just as there’s no magic diet, my only way forward is the one I know so well; masks, social distancing and hand washing.
I am SO tired of this whole CoVid scene; the masks, the social distancing, the confinement. But the virus is not interested in my opinion. This is not a well-behaved virus.
It breaks my heart to think about the holidays this year. But like the Fauci’s we’ll be joining our family on Zoom. https://bit.ly/3nGPEVP
For days, a cloud of malaise has settled around me, draining my energy, blocking my spirit. Something I couldn’t name. Today it came to me. This is grief.
I used to think that grief was reserved for loss of a loved one or other catastrophic events; other lesser losses being relegated to the “stiff upper lip” category. But over time, I have learned that grief is a natural and necessary response to and eventually, balm for any loss.
2020 has been a year of losses, relentlessly compounding like interest on a gambling debt. At first COVID-19 was an exotic virus in a faraway village, no more than a footnote on the nightly news. And slowly, cases in other countries surfaced, but still, not here. And the first few cases close to home seemed to be an oddity that surely would pass. But slowly, insidiously, cases grew into thousands, deaths hit triple digits. ICU wards were overcrowded, undertakers overwhelmed. Even the most skeptical among us had to agree, this was something new, something terrible. We had not been here before and did not know what to do
The economy ground to a crawl as quarantines were imposed. Jobs were lost, families devastated. Schools and churches closed their doors, sports and entertainment events were postponed. And behind the scenes, menacing storms were brewing in the Atlantic which would soon roar ashore, leaving a swath of destruction from the gulf to the eastern seaboard.
Long simmering just below the surface, painful race riots erupted, further dividing us at the precise time we were in most need of unity. And waiting in the wings, devastating fires would soon ravage the west coast. Now diminished, exhausted, and divided, we limp into what will likely be the most highly charged political season since the Civil War.
No wonder I am exhausted, depleted, and drained. We all are.
Grieving will not make the virus disappear, repair the economy, rebuild communities ravaged by fire and flood, or reunite friends and family alienated by social discord.
But still, I need to name the pain, feel it, rage at it, and finally accept it. Grief must have its day if I hope to meet the challenges of the new reality. That familiar world of months ago is not coming back.
Autumn has always been my favorite season. It is a time of change, of new beginnings. As a child, it meant the return to school, reunion with friends, relief from the oppressive summer heat. I loved the smells, the sounds, the feel of autumn. The rustle of wind through the falling leaves, the smell of apples cooking, the taste of pumpkin pies, the calls of the geese migrating south, the chill in the air. I loved it all.
But this is an autumn like no other. We are in the grip of a deadly and relentless pandemic on the threshold of flu season. Within seven short months (can that be true?) we have lost over 200,000 lives to coronavirus in the US and ar eapproaching 1 million worldwide. Over that same period, we have weathered devastating hurricanes, floods, and riots. Fires still rage over much of the West coast. Unemployment is at unprecedented levels and we are in a contentious political battle for the presidency. This is uncharted territory.
We’re all in this together; we hear this a lot. And we seem to agree on this. But we don’t agree on how to get out the situation we find ourselves in. The popular response seems to be to blame each other for our problems. It has become a national pastime. We need only to channel surf or go on social media to find a rabid champion for our cause. No insult, no accusation is off limits. We wear our stubborn allegiance like a badge of honor. Vicious name-calling, unheard of a decade ago, is embedded in the national dialog. Common courtesy no longer unifies us; we are drifting into dangerous waters.
In a recent conversation with a friend, I railed about the corrupt and self-seeking motives of a certain political group, and threw in a few unflattering slurs for good measure. Surely she agreed with my position, after all, she is my friend, an intelligent and thoughtful person. But as her smile stiffened to a grimace, it was clear she didn’t agree. At. All. To my chagrin, not only had my insensitive, and face it, tasteless, comment threatened a friendship, it had made meaningful discourse on the topic impossible. Worse, I wasn’t presenting a reasoned argument, only popular opinions, not even my own.
I am not proud of this behavior. I need to change. Uncomfortable as it is, I need to listen respectfully to the other point of view if I want peace in my family, with my friends, in my community.
But why listen to my opponent? Why entertain her point of view, when she probably won’t listen to mine. And even so, I’m just one person among millions. Perhaps true, but more importantly, being that self-righteous, intolerant person just does not serve me well. I don’t like how it feels.
And who knows, if a few people become open to listenIng and a few more listen to those people and a few more……
Wait! Isn’t that how the virus spreads?