I’ve only written here on the blog a handful of times over the past year. I’ve popped in here and there, but mostly I’ve been quiet. Any creative energy has gone to other projects and this poor blog has been woefully neglected (and probably will continue to be). But one year seems like a milestone that simply must be processed. I have many exciting things to share about what’s ahead for our family, but first it only feels right to record the hard things. To remember.
One year ago I was flying home from LA from filming a video series for the Word on Fire Institute. The flight out to California was relatively normal but the flight home was eerie–LAX was a ghost town and everything was tense. I came home and showered before even hugging my family, worried I might contaminate them if I was exposed on the plane. Everything was shutting down except my husband was still working every day at the distillery which was now making hand sanitizer because local healthcare systems had none.
One year later. It feels almost impossible to process. Isolation. Weeks away from the sacraments. Watching friends cling to conspiracy theories–their wishful thinking cementing into denial, or even anger that others wanted to take precautions. Trying to fill my home, the only thing I could control, with joy and security for my children who were grieving their old life. Sourdough bread. House plants. Hundreds of hikes and walks through the neighborhood. “When this is over, can we go to the fair?” Yes. “When this is over, can we have a big party?” Yes. “When this is over, can we go to a Taylor Swift concert?” You know what? Yes.
Masks becoming second nature like grabbing my purse whenever I leave the house. The week during the summer spike when my asthmatic husband was sicker than he’s ever been in his life, his body shaking with chills, his fever so high it was making his hallucinate, both of us wondering if it was time to take him to the hospital where I would not get to follow him inside. Thank God, that moment didn’t come, but the fear was suffocating. Mother Mary, I prayed, be a mother to me now. Cover him with your starry mantle. Oh God, keep him safe. Thank God, he was safe.
The adjusting and learning. The comfort of more and more data showing that we needn’t wipe down our groceries with bleach wipes. We could check the mail without spraying it down with disinfectant. But curbside everything became normal. Precious rare hours eating a meal outside with a friend, drinking a cocktail, grateful to see them not through a screen, wishing we were inside around a crowded table without so much as elbow room. Talking about how sweet that day will be. Texts from friends asking for prayers because they’re loved one was just intubated. Some of them survived. Others were lost. Life lived in constant dull mourning and yet, lived.
Then the winter storm in Texas that brought back those early days of disorientation and confusion. How will I keep my family warm? How will I keep my children fed? How will we get water? Praying for our heat to stay on. Finding out we were four minutes away from the state’s grid melting down and leaving us in the cold and dark for weeks. Trying not to think about it. Thinking about it. Wishing I hadn’t.
Perhaps now I am the one guilty of wishful thinking, but the clouds feel like they’re lifting. I have been in a cocoon of survival mode for so long. I have not pushed myself. I have let myself rest. I have been so gentle with myself. But I have created. I’ve been creating home. I’ve been creating a safe place for my children to rest and play and process and dream of better days. And I’ve been writing. I’ve been writing and writing and writing. My creative spark is more precious to me than ever. I’ve been crafting dreams for our future and, by God’s grace, watching them come to life.
But as I emerge from the quiet of this cocoon, my new wings are a little bit raw. I am tender to the touch. I cry easily at both joy and sorrow. The sight of a friend’s beautiful face, the idea of Easter Mass, listening to an album I loved as a child, an ultrasound picture from a friend who has been longing for a child–it all cuts me to the heart. It is strange to feel so strong, toughened by the sorrows of a year in crisis, and also so tender in tentative joy. It’s been like months of Lent in the desert, but the Resurrection is so near. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
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