It’s wearing on me. I know I am not alone. I know how much I have to be grateful for.
I am committed to flattening the curve. My family and I have done literally all we can. We went 19 days between shopping trips. We have seen only each other in that time. I am in awe of those working on the front lines right now- the doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, pharmacists… they will forver hold their rightful title as heroes. My family is young and healthy. We are not at great risk. We love others though, so we stay home.
Still, it’s wearing on me. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss running to the store because I forgot the basil. I miss chatting with the woman in aisle 6 who is also looking for pancake mix.
I miss swinging through starbucks for an iced coffee and out-of-the-blue stopping by our favorite local bakery for a treat. I miss the excitement that typically comes from the change from winter to spring- looking forward to Skip’s Hamburger Stand opening and Hodgies Ice Cream . I miss perusing through books at the library and talking with the librarians about what books they are excited about ordering.
I miss being able to say “YES! Let’s go!” to my daughter when she comes to me with wide excited eyes asking to go to Home Depot to get fort building supplies. God. I really miss that.
This is hard. Even for those of us with the most privilege, it’s hard. It could be worse- so much worse. I know this is true and everyday I practice gratitude for how plain lucky I am.
Still, this is really, really hard.
Technology helps. Being able to video chat with loved ones and watch concerts offered generously by artists helps. Understanding that this is the whole world offers some comfort, solidarity. These things make this easier, but not easy.
Admitting that this is wearing on me- that I am feeling sad and missing the life we could not help but take for granted does not mean I am less grateful. It does not make me less appreciative of the incredible acts of love perfomed by our healers on the front lines. It does not mean I am going to stop staying home or going to the store more than every couple of weeks. All I am doing is admitting that it is wearing on me and acknowledging that I know I am not alone.
It’s okay to say that. It may be what seperates us out from the crises our grandparents lived through. Rather than shutting down conversation about how hard this is even for those of us who are just being called to “sit on our couch”, we can do our best to keep our own mental health in some sort of check. For me, that starts by admitting that I am feeling lonely, disoriented, and having trouble finding joy as I usually do.
Of course I am. Of course you are. It is right that we feel this way.
Nobody really knows how or when this will end but we know it will end. We know we will once again venture out our doors forgetting that we were ever held behind them. We know that in short order we will be standing in line for those curly fries or ice cream cone with no taped lines forcing us 6 feet apart.
We know that in the not too distant future we will hug our loved ones (imagine what that will feel like?!), pick them up for a ride, invite them to dinner, and be filled with a new and overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy for being together- for the simple act of spending time with those we love.
The iced coffee and chocolate chip scone will taste different- richer, sweeter, more like love. I suspect for a while our eyes might water with the sheer beauty of being able to order extra whipped cream from a real person standing in front of us.
This is hard. We will get through it. Personally, I believe we will come out to a world we never could have imagined. A world where we remember to appreciate artists and healeres and grocery store clerks. A world that’s a little bit slower, more thoughtful, and kinder. A world filled with more gratitude than any of us have ever lived in.
Not everyone will be in that world with us. That is why we will never be able to say that any of this was worth it.
We will live and love on, though. We will take those trips and walks and pick strawberries and blueberries. We will slather our kids in sunscreen, grab the beach bag, and head for the car, momentarily getting caught up in the moment. Forgettting.
Then, it will hit us like a wave, and we will remember.
We will remember what it was like to not be able to leave.
We will remember what real loneliness is.
We will remember those we have lost.
And we will pause.
We will soak in that moment differently- that banal, mundane, nothing moment of slathering sunscreen and grabbing a beach bag filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we will feel grateful.
Because now, we know. For the first time in most of our collective lives we have learned what it means to savor, to not take things for granted, to appreciate the tiny little moments that make up this beautiful life.
But it does not feel beautiful now. It feels scary and anxious and overwhelming and it’s wearing on me. It’s wearing on you too, I know.
It’s okay. I am not alone. You are not alone. It’s wearing on all of us. But we keep staying home so that more people can invite their loved one to dinner when this is over. So that more people can hug their mom and son and aunt.
So we find it in us to keep on even though it feels like we cannot possibly- because we love others that much. We are seeing a humanity that is new for most of us. Though this feels like the ugliest of times, the beauty of this truth seems to color over some of that darkness.
As we enter what appear to be the most horriffic few weeks of this pandemic for those of us in the United States, I will look for the helpers and the beauty. Also though, I will be honest with myself -and others when it’s not burdening them- about how hard it is. Because this is really, really hard.
Jen Keefe is a Voice Over Talent and Podcast Host. She lives in NH with her husband, two kids, and two guinea pigs. She’s awesome at handstands in the pool. Click here to hire Jen’s voice.