It has been a long time since I’ve written anything on this blog. Because of coronavirus and all of this time in quarantine, we’ve all been forced to sit and slow down and grapple with our thoughts (more than usual), at least that’s been true for me. I’ve personally felt incredibly busy and not busy at the same time; how can that be? Grief. Over the past few months I have spent quite a bit of time grieving. I am not talking about a debilitating state of grief, just a general sadness that has weaved through my days here and there. One of the best definitions I’ve found on grief is: ‘the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in familiar pattern of behavior.’ Umm, coronavirus quarantine in general is a change in familiar pattern of behavior.
Over the past few months, my oldest left for grad school in Florida, which is the farthest he’s been from home, ever. His college graduation didn’t feel real because it was online, but when I helped move him out of his college apartment then pack him up for grad school, that’s when it hit, a new phase of life for him..cue the mom tears. Then there was the release of my daughter and two step-daughters, sending them away to college, each one week apart; a junior, sophomore, and a freshman. My youngest is starting his senior year of high school but it was exactly one year ago this August that he had his stroke. Facebook filled my feed with memories from in and around that time. Seeing the pictures and re-reading the comments and narrative I wrote, was overwhelming and I could still feel every single emotion of my heart breaking. Gratefully he is doing amazing now. Kids grow up so fast and you’re never truly prepared to release them into adulthood and yes, it’s a grieving process every time one of them launches into the world on their own (or even when they get their drivers license and drive away alone for the first time). I know for sure you can’t hang on to them and hold them too tightly. We equip them the best we can and let them go to fly…hardest thing ever. Jen Hatmaker recently said, ‘We are raising the kids we have, not the kids we were. Let them zig where you might have zagged. Believe in their dreams. Believe in them.’
Then there’s cancer. I missed my March appointment because of Covid but was able to have my scans done in June. The cancer center was sad because at the time (and still), only the patient could go inside, no caregivers or support. The waiting room was half full of cancer patients alone. One elderly gentleman in particular had a panic attack when they told him his wife couldn’t join him for his appointment. He pleaded with the receptionist and said she was the only one who could understand what the doctor was saying and that she took all the notes. It was hard being around the ‘scared sick’ and I think if more people could be placed in those rooms for just a short amount of time with those people (the sick, the elderly, the afraid, the vulnerable) looking into their eyes, then wearing a mask would be a no brainer; not a political statement, not a fear based opinion, just plain love and empathy for others. Thankfully, the tumors that have taken residence in my lungs are still stable so cheers to another 6 months (until the next scan). Typically in the times leading up to a scan I have scanxiety and can think of nothing else. Now with the pandemic, the scan was just another thing I had to get done that day. So strange. Recently, Chadwick Boseman, most famous from starring in The Black Panther movie, passed away from colon cancer. That was devastating to me. It put a pit in my stomach and just made me sad for days. Grief back to the surface. Cancer sucks, this pandemic sucks.
I saw this question in an article I read recently: ‘How do you adjust to an ever-changing situation where the ‘new normal’ is indefinite uncertainty?’ While the rest of the world is trying to adjust to this indefinite uncertainty, I, a stable Stage 4 cancer fighter, have been living with this new normal for the past 3 years. Some days are awesome, some are ‘eh’, but all is well. Here are some tips for those of you who can’t think straight right now, from a girl that has lived in indefinite uncertainty for quite some time:
*wake up and smile (literally open your eyes and grin for 5 seconds~you’re alive)
*every few hours think of something you’re grateful for. Maybe just one thing at breakfast, lunch, and dinner then one more before bed.
*don’t be too hard on yourself
*Let yourself have a good cry every now and then because this new normal stinks
*be kind to others but more than that, be empathetic, put yourself in others’ shoes; everyone’s handling the situation differently and everyone’s grieving the loss of how life is/was ‘supposed to be’
*be aware and present each moment and let things go. All we have is today, right now, this moment. This is has been a hard one for me because I have teens/young adults and sometimes worry takes over. I am practicing letting them go to make and learn from their own mistakes while being thankful for today. Key word, practice
Pico Iyer says it this way, ‘The fact that nothing lasts is the reason why EVERYTHING matters.’
Nothing lasts, everything matters. You have this moment