I miss people. I miss normal. I just simply miss all the things.
That’s the reality I continue to find myself in over and over again and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
I also miss talking about things other than COVID-19, the government and yes, cancer.
The latter I recently proclaimed to my family I’m done talking about. Quite simply, it’s a chapter of my life, which not even I could have written. It’s less than ideal, yet far from unique. While I recognize as a writer sharing stories may be of help to others, in my everyday life the topic has become old.
Now that’s funny to some I’m sure. Just 10 months in is hardly long in comparison to most, yet just like them I like to think there is more to my life than this disease. Or as I was recently told by a life coach (interviewed for the next 209 magazine), it’s actually ‘Dis Ease.’ Ummmmm, still trying to wrap my mind around that one. With life far from normal that type of information can really rack with one’s brain.
When my kids were little, I knew I would miss the days of shuttling them to school, activities and play dates. Now I feel I’m being robbed. Robbed by a virus which I liken more to an ugly dragon than a pandemic.
Please don’t misunderstand; I know the virus is very real. I know we are all susceptible to get it and yes, I know the facts and figures.
All that being said, we as people are still very much entitled to our feelings – mask or no mask. The virus can shut down many things. It should not, however, mute the ability for each of us to verbalize frustrations, disappointments and even opinions.
Living in my own bubble of battling my “dis ease” in mid-summer of 2020, I remember speaking to our editor and discussing my return to work plan. My good days after all seemed to out weight my bad, so returning to work seemed logical. As my editor and I spoke I shared with her my simple “I miss people.”
One of true wisdom and even more gifted at stating the obvious than I, she simply shared, “We all do. You aren’t missing a thing. None of us are seeing people.”
That still makes me chuckle and it’s also a great illustrator of our present time. As many lack the ability to see people, socialize, work beyond their home space it’s easy to get self-absorbed. It’s easy to feel as if your troubles outweigh others. It’s also easy to continue the charade of a perfect life.
Back to the kids, as they are truly my biggest concern in this time of uncertainty. Yes, for those not paying attention it is indeed a time of uncertainty. Not convinced? An event which began as a three-week stay at home order has extended 10 going on 11 months.
We still don’t know when all our children will return to school. When their lives will return to looking “normal” or adapt to the “new normal” as some like to say. So many are struggling through this. So many uncertain of the overall impact this will have on their future. So many missing socialization.
Truth be told, I never knew how social both of my children were until it was taken from them. Personally I’m an introverted extrovert, our home can be both rambunctious and still quietness all in the same day. So when one of my students began struggling last semester it was alarming to me when they shared they missed interaction.
Oh, sure judge all you want for my transparency, I’m good with that. What I’m not good with is the lack of empathy and understanding some are having for our kids – most especially the teens – as they muddle through this.
For those without children, please understand, this is not like homeschool. These children are not going on field trips with other families, meeting periodically for group projects or attending life enriching activities in the name of education. They are isolated in their home staring at a computer, which they later return to after lunch to do homework. There is no “break” from screen time, as the experts once suggested for the better mental health for our kids. Screen time has now taken over and well, it’s more than just not okay, it’s concerning.
All this venting being laid out; here’s where I stand.
We’re communicating a lot more in our home. We’re learning to be a bit more patient and working on being understanding. We’re showing ourselves, as well as one another some grace. We’re also eating out on occasion and say what you will, we don’t consider ourselves “part of the problem.”
While the pandemic can and has taken lives, so does poor mental health, that’s simply not something I’m willing to risk. Now as the 21 days slowly has morphed to months and soon a year I offer this fear is paralyzing, faith freeing.
No one has the true solution to this complicated problem. As for me and mine we will continue to proceed with caution, while maintaining some semblance of life all the same. Godspeed and God bless.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.