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Category: Seasons

Covid-19: A Year In

A year ago most of us were still living in pre-pandemic mode.  We’d just visited our college senior daughter, attending an on-campus dance production and eating at a full and lively restaurant.  Our high school senior son, along with other actors and techies, was in the final days of rehearsals for The Addams Family; psyched for opening night.  My spouse was working.  I was seeing clients in my office.

March 2020 is one of those unforgettable dates we’ll reference, as our parents did when JFK was assassinated or those of us did who alive during the horrific events of 9/11: “Do you remember what you were doing when the pandemic hit?”

What were you doing a year ago?   Is it hard to remember?

And now, a year later?

Well, we’ve gone through disbelief, grief, acceptance, impatience, anger, surrender and feeling blah. Sometimes all in one day.  

At first, we thought this virus would be muffled in months.  Spring was coming and it didn’t feel so awful because we were able to get outside and be with friends.

My daughter came home mid-March, graduated without a ceremony, and is living with us, working, saving money, and making plans.

The musical was canceled on opening night. Our son attended his 5-minute drive-through graduation, moved to college in August, and found the experience so dystopian with masks, social distancing, no in-person gatherings, no eating in the cafeteria, etc., he decided to study online from home this semester.  

My spouse stopped interior painting jobs as he wasn’t considered “essential” until August. Unemployment benefits, newly created for the self-employed, saved the day.

I moved from in-person sessions at the office to video or phone sessions from the finished attic of our home.  I’m still paying rent but only visit my office to get the mail and water the begonia.  It’s blooming now, and  I need it there to remind me that I’ll return to the office at some point.

Where are you now?

And, what have we learned?

Whew – that’s a tough one.  Here are first thoughts.

We learned we are more resilient and flexible than we thought.  

We learned to delicately balance between grieving what was lost and also accepting what was happening – often toggling back and forth between those actions.

We learned our government did not have a well-planned strategy for a disaster like a pandemic. 

We learned we are not in control of events but that we can work at managing our response to life so it’s an intentional response and not impulsive reactivity.  We learned this is really hard.  

We learned that our time together is precious and enjoyable – all of us in a small home – and we are also all looking forward to the time when our young adult children can restart halted plans.

We learned that participation in nourishing activities and rituals is vital.

We learned we need each other; that being together virtually is an available alternative but pales in comparison to being together, in person, with those we love.  

What have you learned?

With vaccines coming and deaths and infections decreasing, we appear to be moving into the wind-down phase of the pandemic but of course we don’t really know.

So, how do we live now, one year in?

We work to surrender to what’s not in our control and to focus on what is. And we allow ourselves days when we’re just sick of all of it.

We keep wearing masks and social distancing.

We mourn those we’ve lost and whose lives we couldn’t adequately honor during the pandemic.  My dad died in October and a favorite neighbor down the street just last month.  We mourn with those who have suffered terribly this year. Our family’s losses were small ones compared to those whose family members and friends died from Covid-19, or lost jobs, homes, security.  We remember that all of us are vulnerable and all of us are connected.

We eye the calendar hopefully and try to be patient. Perhaps we can visit family later this year. Maybe our son can return to a more normal college experience, and our daughter can move in with friends. Neighborhood potlucks, street festivals, concerts, and all sorts of gatherings might become reality! And perhaps we’ll be able to stop worrying about loved ones or ourselves getting seriously ill.

Returning to a new normal will bring new challenges. Still, I’m confident that given what we’ve learned this past year, we’re more likely to adequately manage what lies ahead.

How are you living now, one year in?

A final note: Courtney Martin wrote a terrific post with more questions if you are in a reflective mode. You can access it here

Brenda Hartman-Souder, LCSW-R  March 2021

Thank You Tiny Acapella Choir

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A full hour
I spent outside today,
the thermometer at five degrees.

Despite weariness at the interminable winter,
once I’m out and moving,
my growl and grumble give way to
something else.

Gratitude might be too excessive a word,
but my mind quiets and
I breathe into the reverie of walk-jogging
on crunchy but plowed roads.
The day lightens blue and clear.

Today the birds,
hiding, perhaps in the blue spruces,
were singing, despite the bitter, still tundra.

I read that in winter’s cold
birds fluff their feathers
into a downy coat;
they huddle or stack together
and their body temperature
can dip a little without hypothermia setting in.

It’s the lack of food, not the cold
that’s likely to kill them.

Thank you
to whoever’s feeding these musicians
who don’t,
in the early dawn,
decide to warble
only if they are in the mood.

They sing.

Evolutionarily, they probably do so to
call for a mate or claim their space.

But I,
the human that I am,
hear hope.

Brenda Hartman-Souder

Photo by Peter Lewis on Unsplash

Patience

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“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Gerbera daisy was in full bloom when I bought it at the Farmer’s Market this May.  Nestled, with several other annuals, into the large crock in front of our house, it exuded sunny health.

After a few weeks, it stopped blooming.  All summer I watered and fed it, and the warm sun shone on it, but it did not produce flowers.  Its leaves, however, grew and stayed such a lush green I didn’t uproot it these past weeks as I emptied plant pots for the winter.

But, a few days ago, in November, several daisies emerged through leaves, like shy but happy debutantes at the last hour of the ball!  I’m treasuring this unexpected burst of color just days before a predicted killing frost.

We never know when our hard work in life:  changing our part in a relationship pattern, caring for ourselves differently, working on a life goal, showing up for exercise or deciding to address an addiction may yield a burst of hope and color.

“Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” Saint Francis de Sales

Just because results aren’t visible right away does not mean nothing is changing or growing or preparing to bloom.  Remember that, and carry on with what you have decided is important for you to attend to.

Brenda Hartman-Souder
November 2018

May 2018

Vinca 2018

Vinca May 2018

Astonished
is the best word I can find
for spring
after our northern winter.

Just last week
I wore a winter coat
and snow swirled
in cloudy skies.

But now
the maple’s reddish buds are
flecked with green,
limes and pale golds the dominant hues,
at last.

And five days after
tossing s
eeds,
the arugula has sprouted.

Lovers walk down the sidewalk
arm in arm
and dogs I didn’t know existed
pull at leashes
following the scent of squirrels.

What astonishes you?

Brenda Hartman-Souder, 2018

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