I’ve started writing more times than I care to count. This pandemic has put a grip on me – every time I start writing something, when I come back to review it, I feel differently. It’s hard, even with fewer obligations, to justify taking the time to sit and write. Are all my closets and drawers neatly organized? No. Have I been preparing elaborate meals for the kids and I? No. Have I watched Tiger King? Well…yes. The memes were driving me crazy, I had to know what it was all about. Have I read any books? No. Have we maintained a routine? Not as much as I’d like, but we are managing to get along just fine so I’m not pushing my luck.
For me, the safer at home mandate came at an interesting time. It was the weekend that would mark a year since we lost Tony. I felt a huge sense of relief in not having to do all the ‘normal’ things those next few days, especially come the 17th when everyone would be sporting their green and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Being at home that day and week was, without a doubt, a blessing for the kids and me.
We continued on and switched gears as we got accustomed to working from home and distance learning. If cancer and widowhood has brought me any strengths, it has been to keep my perspective about being safer at home. I guess the last 4.5 years prepared me for the pandemic in more ways than one-
Social Distancing – Throughout radiation and nuclear treatments, we had multiple situations where we had to keep a 6 ft. distance from Tony. And during cold and flu seasons, we always tried our best to be extra vigilant as not to compromise his health. It meant, at times, no hugs or kisses, but we knew it was for the best.
Safer at Home – Once we were home, I was reminded of the three weeks Tony was home from the hospital where I really couldn’t leave the house for more than 15-20 minutes. I relied on at grocery delivery, wearing hoodies so I could keep my phone and earbuds in my front pouch, and appreciating the quiet time together.
Dealing with loss – Many have been quick to identify this feeling so many are experiencing right now, but for a widow, it’s all too familiar. We are all going through a grieving period – loss of human interaction, loss of activities, changes to finances. As a widow, this all feels reminiscent of the past year.
Lack of Control – This is not something I am good at, but have learned to live with. Once again, I have had control taken from me, forcing me to truly live one day at a time, knowing that I can only control and protect myself and my kids.
Up until last week, I was feeling really good about being at home. But then something shifted in me. I guess if I think about it, grief caught up with me. The sadness, the anger, the longing for what isn’t here anymore.
Easter Sunday came. By all accounts, I should have been ‘fine’…this wasn’t our first Easter without Tony. But this year, this holiday, hit me hard. Zooms, FaceTimes, and pictures online of everyone together with just their families. Their intact households. It truly felt like there was a giant hole in my heart.
Vacation. The kids and I were supposed to leave for Mexico on Monday. I was so looking forward to the break, the warm weather, and the time together. And as much as I understood and knew we’d make the best of our time at home, the disappointment and reality of what this pandemic has done to our world set in.
Taxes. As my 2019 tax preparation came back from the accountant this week, another trigger. Looking at the tax return, in black and white, was a stark reminder that everything has changed. Silly as it sounds, knowing that this is the last time those papers will come back with his name on them as ‘head of household’ and also knowing that it all now rests on me moving forward, came down like a ton of bricks.
And now today, with the announcement that the kids will not return to their physical classrooms this school year, more sadness. My son’s elementary years have had some pretty crappy parameters around them. He started 1st grade and within a week, life had changed drastically with Tony’s diagnosis. And now, he won’t even return to his classroom to finish 5th grade.
While I try hard to stay positive, it’s a struggle. Much of what I write and post to social media is so that as I look back, I remember more of the happy than the sad. For me, it’s much easier to share the happy. Sharing the sad, especially when everyone is struggling right now, feels selfish. I don’t want to bring anyone down.
The truth is I do have tremendous worry and anxiety about what this whole pandemic will do to those I love and care about. Those that are at greater risk due to age or other conditions, those that are essential workers, and those whose businesses and livelihoods are at risk by all of this. It’s all scary and unknown. Please know that I’m not trying to make a comparison or say one thing is worse than the other…everyone is entitled to their feelings. But what I am saying is – yes, things are different. They aren’t going back to they way they used to be anymore. Somedays we will be okay with it – there are a lot of silver linings. And other times, we will be sad and upset and angry with all that we are losing or have lost due to the pandemic. It’s okay to sit with all those feelings.
It is going to be painful and hard, but we will make it through it. It doesn’t mean we have to like it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be ‘okay’ with what life has turned into for my kids and I. I do have hope and promise that as we continue to move forward we will find comfort in who we are now, even when it feels like it’s not possible.