On What Will Be

Only in the darkness can you see the stars.

Martin Luther King Jr

Some days I imagine that there is no pandemic. Or rather, that it’s not as bad as we think, it’s all overblown, that these precautions we are taking are unnecessary. Work, travel, school, entertainment, shopping—that LIFE can resume to the way it was before. “Normal.” Prior irritations and challenges—kids oversleeping, coordinating school activities, a pressure to travel more for work, where to go on vacation this year, more—are back front and center. Wouldn’t it be nice? Comfortable relief. But then, I shake my musings and wake up. Logic takes over, and reality sets in.

Everyday, I don my mask. Not just the physical one, but the one that we all do. The one that says, this is all going to be okay. That the losses are manageable, that we are lucky to be alive, to have what we still have. That all the bad makes the good that much more precious in contrast, that we should feel abject gratitude. And that is all TRUE. Make no mistake, I am exceedingly grateful for all I have. I am fortunate: I am still the same. I have had my turn in life and built a foundation I am satisfied with; my optimism and natural faith in the good are intact, though admittedly tarnished. Sure, I bounce to lower depths of despair than a few months ago, to places I visited and dwelled in many times in the past. I see my old friends every once in a while, anxiety and depression, whom I have parted ways with over the years, and I wave farewell to them after we share a drink or two and recall those days I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks on end. I am okay, if a little tired, frazzled, jaded. But, I think for all that is good, there is no denying all that is lost. I don’t mourn for myself, but for my friends, my loved ones, the world experiencing this all. I feel enormous empathy for those that are suffering and grieve with those that have lost livelihoods, health, and lives. I mourn for our children and youth. I see the effects on those still trying to find their own place in this world and think, what a difficult challenge to create a foundation when the earth below is made of quicksand. And I feel: how can we make a safe haven to rest in and build in while everything around is uncertain, strange, scary, and bleak? This out of all my daily thoughts I see as my personal challenge. The one I need to meet and feel the enormous pressure to get right, as a mother, a parent, and a part of the human race.

And so in the evenings, as I sit in quiet solitude by the shore, I let my mask slip. For just a few brief moments, I am present. There is no time but this time. Worries drift away with the tide, and even as the sky turns dark, I see the stars come out and find renewed strength for a new day, knowing what will be, will be, and that we will all persevere.