A Covid-19 Cry

“Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

If you follow me then you know I pride myself on positivity. I believe making lemonade out of lemons is a marker of a meaningful life. Moreover, I tend to approach challenging circumstances as an opportunity for optimism to emerge and evolve. But sometimes the most important thing sharers can do is keep it real. And so in the spirit of authentic and awesome vulnerability, I feel compelled to share that I had a difficult day.

Yesterday my daughter had a Zoom preschool meet up. It was a brief check-in and a chance to connect with classmates. At five she’s limited on current event information. She knows the Corona virus exists and that we’re staying home to keep ourselves and others safe. Given the circumstances and her innocence,  I feel it’s an appropriate amount of intel.

But seeing friends on Zoom did something to her. The weight of the world fell upon her shoulders and she openly sobbed for her friends, preschool, grandparents, and routine. She collapsed into my arms and begged me to fix things. She wants to “get back to normal.”

Kid, you summed up something significant, which is a shared feeling amongst children and adults alike.

She sobbed for what felt like forever. And as I wiped away her tears I felt mine begin. I recognized that we shared fears we hadn’t spoken into existence until our communal cry.

Like my child, I am missing the world I knew before COVID-19. I yearn for my parents, siblings, friends, and routine. But unlike my child I’m not ready to return just yet. I have grown in my gratitude for people and things I previously coveted but didn’t celebrate enough. Now, even as I type teary-eyed, my heart has expanded tenfold. I know this time, stress-filled and complicated, is also a reminder to do more and become better.  Sad but true, our understanding and appreciation for the fragility of life is not often felt until we’re threatened by it or rendered helpless because of it. I expect to continue to grow in gratitude. I intend to live as much and as loudly as I possibly can, especially because of and for pandemic victims.

Everyone is suffering. Whether from the economic fallout of the events, the loss of a loved one, the crippling anxiety of the event itself, a missed prom, graduation, or wedding, or some other circumstance where life has painfully paused. It’s okay to get angry, be scared, cry, or sit still. Take a minute. Perhaps our collective emotional roller coaster is a silver lining in this storm. The world needed more empathy before this and it will certainly need more after it.

But as we wipe away tears let’s accept that our normal isn’t going to be the same. Again, I am thinking it’s a good thing. Whereas previously my anxieties, spoken or unspoken, left me sleepless or silently suffering, in the future I will face crisis with conviction and confidence. I understand things differently now and in her own way, so does my five year old.

We’re deciding what to do and who to be in this and after it. In a strange way, it’s beautiful. Any tragedy, while dark and overwhelmingly oppressive, indicates signs of hope. I know this from my child’s cry and my own, as well as the examples of selflessness and service emerging from this pandemic.

Wishing you well, endless empathy, and deep and awe-inspiring hope.