I wrote last time about the long hours my brave wife was putting in at the hospital. She’s a nurse, working under intensely stressful conditions like all healthcare workers right now.
I hold extra tension in my body on the days she works. But that’s nothing compared to what she goes through. She didn’t get home till 11 that night, after going in at 6:30am.
Being yoked to someone “on the front lines” (as they’re calling it) means I don’t have the option of forgetting the real human suffering that COVID-19 represents. I may be trying to figure out how to live in this new social-distanced reality, making meaning as best I can… but people are struggling to breathe, possibly dying without a last touch from their loved ones, just a few miles from where I sit.
When my sweetie got up yesterday after sleeping late to recover from the long shift, I was in the middle of my workday. I went to sit with her as she drank coffee on the couch. I put my arms around her and listened to her talk about what it’s like. At some point I had this guilty thought: “I should be at my desk, working.” Then I recognized this for what it was: a remnant of my pre-pandemic priorities.
Offering my presence and touch, supporting her—what’s more important than that? And isn’t it just as much my “work” right now as anything?
I remember when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Suddenly everything else receded in importance. I feel like this time is parallel to that, making me more grateful for the relationships in my life, more attentive to community. Bringing me back to what’s really important.
“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” —Margaret J. Wheatley
What do we care about? And how shall we direct our power for change?
Gratitude: A couple of blue-sky days. The flowers are really popping.
Tip of the Day: Look at a flower. Really look at it. That flower knows nothing of COVID-19. It’s going to do its thing, make seeds and fruit. (It’s going to die doing that! That is the way of nature.)
Resource of the Day: I love this guided meditation from Dawson Church, which my sweetie and I listened to together last night. I’m cooking up a blog post addressing fear in the time of COVID-19, but in the meantime this is a useful tool to calm anxieties. Never mind that he refers to fear as a “negative” emotion and speaks of “suppressing” it. That language doesn’t totally resonate for me—but the meditation is soothing. It starts around minute 7. I’ve only done it once without falling asleep.
How is it for you? Do you find that you are loving your special people a bit more tenderly (while maybe also feeling—at times—cranky and snappish due to a little too much togetherness, if you’re all in the same house?) Or are you using technology to connect, and missing the touch of the people who know and love you? How are you staying distant-but-connected, if you are in this situation like most of us?
You’re never the type of person who would ever have the option of forgetting the real suffering that COVID-19 is causing. Thanks for what she’s doing and for the help she is giving, and for the strength/love you give. Peace!
Thank you, Jack!
During tough times in my long life each time I’ve been brought back to what truly matters…like being present for your wife who’s out there on the front lines of this pandemic. A long time back I said to myself, “Don’t sweat the small stuff and guess what most of what we get stressed about in every day life is small stuff. Thank you for your thoughtful compassionate posts.
Thank you so much, Allison.
I didn’t realize she was working in that capacity. It’s challenging enough just trying to figure out a new way to navigate every day situations. I can’t imagine the frustration and stress of being on the front line of this epidemic. Give her a hug for me and let her know I truly appreciate what she and so many others are doing.
Thanks for your posts and suggestions. They are helpful as I try to be safe and stay sane.
Thank you, Jane, sending love to you and Will!