Let’s Be Still

The last few months have been hellish. Hellish isn’t even a word I use but I really can’t think of another one to describe it.

I’m waiting on approval to get a cartilage transplant for my knee, due to a failed previous surgery. I’m also waiting for someone who is a good match to die so I can have their cartilage. It is a haunting type of hopefulness.

Being in pain physically all the time is grueling. However, it doesn’t even touch the damage that can be done from mental pain.

I’ve been to court countless times over the last few months for the kiddos that I’m a Guardian ad Litem for. I’ve been screamed at, cussed out, and completely exhausted by a system that can feel impossible to navigate even for the well-trained. Someone recently asked me if I can’t sleep at night, thinking about these kids. The answer was a quick yes, but only when I’m not already losing sleep about my own kids.

My own kids have also had some rough months. Their stories are no longer mine to tell, but I weep no less because of the transfer of authority. My own mother used to tell me when I was sick that she would do anything to be able to take the sickness from me. I would do anything to take the ‘sickness’ of the last few months from my own child.

So a global pandemic? Right now? Really 2020?!

That was my first thought. I will admit, I have been following COVID-19 for weeks, with scientific curiosity and complete selfishness.

I don’t deserve coronavirus and neither does my family. We’ve already had to endure 2020. 

We had to cancel our vacation to the coast for next week. The ocean is the only thing that could wash away the last few months.

My kids have had to watch as everything they have worked hard for has to be canceled. Volleyball tournaments, orchestra performances, trips. I’ve been stuck in a house with a sick toddler for five days. The hits keep coming. And we are the lucky ones. Even in my haze of selfishness, I know this to be true.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece of artwork from one of my favorite illustrators, Nikki McClure. I’ve also been thinking about what to tell my children, as I feel like every day I’m disappointing them in new ways. Here is what I’ve come up:

 This is just a pause. 

When my kids are really into a show and I’m telling them they have to do their chores, I invoke the pause. Pause it now, so you can finish it later. If you don’t pause it now, then you’ll never get the rest of it. We’re pausing school (or we better be), sports, socializing, and a lot of things we really want to finish. It is disappointing, but if we don’t do it now there won’t be much left to enjoy in the future.

I’m going to pause before I cast judgment on how many supplies a person has in their shopping cart. I don’t know their situation or family size. I don’t know if they are trying to stock up for a nursing home or daycare facility. I don’t know what their last few months have been like.

I’m going to pause before I post, or re-post, information on social media. These are tumultuous times, with quickly evolving information. Should we be sharing scientific-based articles and research? Absolutely! But I’m going to pause for a few seconds first, to make sure my intentions are to spread helpful pieces of literature and not to prove a point.

I’m going to pause from the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life as a family of five. I might look at my kids over dinner, rather than yell at them to bring their plate in the car as I drive them to their rehearsal/practice/show/tournament/game/performance. I’m not going to call this a blessing because it is a stressful, frustrating time. I can, however, see that pausing can have some benefits.  One of my favorite songs, Let’s Be Still, by Head and the Heart, is playing on repeat in my head right now.

The world’s just spinning
A little too fast
If things don’t slow down soon
we might not last
So just for the moment, let’s be still

Finally, I’m going to pause from thinking about this situation with such a self-centered pity. I am writing this with an abundance of privileges. My job and my husband’s job are both going completely online for the time being. My family is not food insecure. My children are low-risk for impact from coronavirus. I have access to stores and the ability to get there. The list goes on, and on. If pausing is simply not an option for you, I completely understand and I hope that my own pause might afford me the opportunity to help a little bit more. Truly. If you are reading this and you are not sure where to go for help, I have several weeks of time and some mad librarian skills I would be happy to put to use. Reach out. I’m paused, but ready.

The ocean is going to be there. Our friends and activities are going to be there. Our neighbors are going to be there, but only if we pause long enough to ensure their good health.

Happy pausing, my friends. Let’s think of others. Let’s think to the future. But for right now, let’s be still.

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