Tuesday, April 21, 2020

You Are Not Alone

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
~ Allen Saunders

This is a longer and much different post that I intended to write in February.  Life did indeed happen while I was making other plans.  What follows is a compilation of excerpts from my personal journal.  I share them, not to offer any profound insights or solutions, but in the hope that you can identify with some of my thoughts and emotions and find that at least a little comforting.

Mar. 3 - This virus - why am I only attending to it now?  Apparently, it's been ravaging other countries for weeks now.  This is the downside of not watching the news.  How many other Americans are unaware of the problems that may be coming our way?

Mar. 4 - At a recent rally, the President actually said we could wake up one day and it would be gone.  It's one thing for me to be oblivious, but the President?

Mar. 6 - Italy has shut down all of its schools.  And still, we do not seem to be taking this seriously.  This denial and even arrogance is astonishing and bodes serious concerns for us, I fear.

Mar. 9 - Why am I feeling such a sense of trepidation?

Mar. 11 - Italy is in complete lockdown.  I just watched videos of Italians in Siena, Naples and somewhere in Sicily standing on their balconies singing together to try to uplift their spirits.  One of my favorite memories is of a visit with friends to Siena on a bright afternoon, eating gelato among a throng of tourists.  Today both husbands are gone, taken by cancer within the same week and Siena looks like a ghost town. I weep at the breadth of loss.

Mar. 12 - We've canceled our April and May luncheons.  If our government won't give us a clear direction, we have to make decisions to protect our selves and our membership.  I am so proud of this Board.  And speaking of decisions, I am putting boundaries around watching the news.  I've been glued to the TV, seeking information and recommendations from the scientific and medical communities.  But too much information and I leapfrog across depression into despair.  I need to pay as much attention to my mental and emotional health as I do my physical health.

Mar. 13 - Emerging voices are sounding an alarm that we are not prepared for a crisis of this magnitude.  Not enough ICU beds, not enough supplies or personnel should this hit us the way it has hit Italy or Spain.  Not enough people taking this seriously.  The attack on science and our press in recent months has diminished their authority.  I fear this pandemic is going to accentuate the cost of our political polarity and expose the underbelly of our society.  We are certainly going to see an interesting cast of heroes and villains.

Mar. 14 - A FOX commentator asserting this is a hoax, accusing opponents of using the virus to embarrass the President.  This is not helpful.  We need facts and reliable information.  How do I remain responsible and sane amidst comments like this and the name-calling and diatribe on TV and social media venues?!  Boundaries, boundaries!

Mar. 15 - I just created a binder of lists - books to read, friends to contact, projects to complete, topics/ideas to explore, hobbies to take up again, etc.  At least, it helped to restore a minimal sense of control.

Mar. 17 - I woke this morning and set about my usual routine - breakfast, taking a few moments to notice and appreciate the shrub beyond the courtyard wall in its coat of purple spring buds, then curling up in my favorite chair with my journal in hand.  Then, I made the mistake of checking the stats - 4565 cases in the U.S. and 87 dead.  The juxtaposition leaves me at best confused and at worst, anxious.  And if I am anxious, retired here in the safety of southwestern UT, what about all those millions of people out of work, many in congested cities?  How are they coping?

Mar. 18 - Watching views of people ignoring the call for social distancing - or is it that they just don't care?

Mar. 19 - Sixteen months today since John died.  I am taken by a wave of relief that he died when and how he died - his valiant heart simply giving up the struggle, in our home, his hand in mine, my sister here to support me.  How would I have handled watching him struggle for air behind a glass barrier as I have seen images of people in just that circumstance?  What if our doctors have to decide who they will try to save as Italian doctors are facing?

Mar. 21 - Structure, focus, mindfulness, gratitude - I cling to these words.  Far too easy to descend into anxiety or outrage at the ineptitude of our federal government.  Thank heaven for some of the governors who are showing up in this leadership vacuum.

Mar. 23 - Thankfully, I have much to be grateful for - friends checking in, the network of support I'm blessed with, learning to use new technology, spring weather, living in a relatively small and safe community, and always the companionship of my sweet rescue dog, Rufus.

Mar. 26 - The cloudbursts of personal grief seem to have subsided, blown away by the larger sense of loss, existential grief as it were.  So much loss - jobs, security, trust in our institutions, in one another, in the belief that we will be strong enough, resilient enough, smart enough and united enough to emerge from this whole and healthy.  My habit of recording five things to be grateful every night is a sanity saver.

Mar. 27 - I have to remember not to try to make sense out of nonsense - it's impossible and exhausting.

Mar. 28 - Thank heavens for images of individuals helping their older neighbors or the creative uses of technology to stay connected, or the generosity of some of our athletes and celebrities and the amazing courage and compassion of our health care workers.  These images comprise a life preserver in this sea of uncertainty. They restore a sense of hope for me.

That's enough for now.  I hope this does as I had hoped for some of you out there - you are not alone.


  1. An outline of frustration. Hard to believe we are in this place and are being stymied by our so called leader. Thank you for being my friend.