We’re back! Lily and I have recovered from last week’s funk and are ready to write about current times once more. We’ve figured out that dealing with the pandemic and the necessary public health restrictions has truly plunged us into grief. Common wisdom explains grief in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Last week we were sunk in depression. It’s been a hard-won achievement to reach where we are today: acceptance.
As in, we’re slow but we’re not that slow.
Lily’s kidding, of course. At least, she had better be. What she’s not telling you is, we had to decide we were going to right ourselves and face our circumstances, head-on. Last weekend I barely slept and totally lost my appetite. The new world and its limitations just seemed like too much to deal with. What really tipped me over the edge was a predictive model from the University of Washington, a forecast of when individual states would lift social distancing restrictions.
We were thinking Washington would be near the top of the list, since we got started early on protocols, but. . .
No such luck. We were in the lower half with a projected date of May 28! I started crying and yelling I can’t take another month of this!
You didn’t really snap out of the crying until Monday. You couldn’t even read out loud to Doc and the cats without getting choked up.
We started a new “Bowl” game on Monday, hoping it would speed our recovery.
It’s called Nurture Bowl.
Monday’s task: Write yourself an encouraging note and mail it.
So we did.
The note was in yesterday’s mail. I haven’t opened it yet. Somehow, it was enough just to receive it. I’m saving it for another day because yesterday I felt pretty good. There were lots of reasons to be happy and thankful (there always are if I have the presence of mind to look), but the real change was on the inside. Somewhere along the way I had realized it was okay to be my best self even if I wasn’t interacting with other people (which I so long to do). I don’t have to think in terms of limits, I can keep reaching out and growing on my own.
That is, on my own with Lily. It’s a matter of acceptance, of recognizing what’s available now and knowing that the only certainty in life is change. This phase of restricted activity will not last forever. Washington’s social distancing order will be extended beyond the May 4 expiration date, but State parks are reopening to the public next Tuesday. Not uniformly or all at once. However, I plan to have a half-day adventure in southwestern Washington on May 5th to see for myself. In a mask. With proper social distancing. It feels like a jail break!
We’ve been figuring out other things to do, too.
One is something I’ve contemplated since Bruce died. I’m becoming a hospice patient support volunteer. The paperwork is on the way and the training can be completed online. The commitment is 2-4 hours a week, spending time with a hospice patient so their home support team can have a break. This could involve talking with the patient, reading to them or doing some light house work. One of my biggest frustrations with Stay Home, Stay Healthy is having no outlet for my huge store of positive emotional energy. I have a lot to give, more than a dog and three cats can absorb.
That pent-up positive energy can make you weird sometimes.
Lily, what happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla. In addition to volunteering for hospice, I’ve signed up for an online yoga class. I’ve been a lone wolf yoga type for years, learning some postures out of a book and doing them on my own. After a brief introduction to a guided experience from an online instructor it’s a whole new experience- -fresh, exciting, effective. My body and mind shifted in such a good direction after just a few minutes of effort that I truly couldn’t resist dropping the small monthly fee and giving it a go.
After all, no one says acceptance means no fun.
Exactly, Lily. Now that we’ve passed from denial to acceptance I’ve ordered some masks to replace my bulky bandanas. Though I firmly believe that the crisis is de-escalating, I also believe it will be several months before being unprotected in public spaces will be appropriate.
Speaking of which, are we going to mask up and go to Klicker’s tomorrow for a Birthday Cake ice cream cone?
Could be. I stopped there on Monday for some fresh local asparagus and just happened to survey the ice cream freezer. If their Birthday Cake flavor had looked like the other versions I’ve seen, all pink and blue and green and yellow and loaded with candy bits- –
Like the cone we got last July at Bright’s?
Exactly, and I’m super-glad you were with me then because I couldn’t have made it through that intensely sweet scoop alone. The Klicker’s version is something I’ve never seen before. It looks more like a Boston Cream Pie- -yellow cake, custard and chocolate glaze on top. Masked, gloved, whatever it takes we’ll do this on Saturday!
Acceptance. Sometimes it can be sweet.
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You’re awesome Susan! (How’s that for creative writing?) Thanks for sharing so much. I think you are helping encourage and support anyone who reads your blog. You and Lily enjoy the heck out of that cake, er, ice cream : )
Hey, Tim, thanks for reading and also for the creative writing! I’m glad you find my blogs encouraging, we are truly all in this together and it’s important to help however we can. Thanks again for posting your fabulous new song! Lily and I will dedicate one bite of our ice cream to you.
I identify so much, Susan. Something in me can sponge up the latest wave of negativity around me, and I’ll just wallow in that like a dog for a day or two. Then, something turns me around. If I focus on just what is immediately around me, that’s a good feeling.
Farmer’s Market happening again here in P.T., albeit masked and limited. Nonetheless, a very good thing to see.
We’ll get through this!!!!
Hi David. Thanks for reading and commenting! Yes, it’s hard not to get swamped by the negative stuff, but we’ll all keep trying, right? I came up with a new visualization that has helped me a lot and might be useful to you: during lockdown, it’s like being a chrysalis. Post-pandemic, we will all emerge as beautiful butterflies.
Enjoy the Farmer’s Market. I hope the Market in Walla Walla gets up and running soon.
Yes, we will get through this!
Hi missy. So glad to see this. You’ll be fine. I want you to know that I have moments when I want to scream too, I absolutely hate this. I hate being told to stay away from others. I’m periodically claustrophic and have discovered wearing a mask brings it on. I can’t do it. I can’t breathe and I feel panic setting in. So that’s it – I have told myself I don’t have to do it. I’m aware that some will think that is socially unacceptable. So be it. I’m sure it’s not the first time. I will not be allowed to go in Costco, one of our few still available outings. I have seen masks that look like they are pointed out more than others, leaving more space for breathing, I hope they’re easy to find and I will try one of those. When I think of you I am reminded to appreciate that I do live with another human being that I love (most days!) which probably makes survival of this crap a lot easier. Thank you for that. Keep smiling – and treat yourself often! Kathi
Hi Kathi, You are lucky indeed to be there with that person you love (most days). I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for couples to be together 24/7, every day of the week, but you can’t underestimate the value of simple human touch. We’re not built to go without it! Sorry the masking is a challenge for you. I signed up for a fencing class once and had to drop out because I couldn’t cope with the helmet-style mask- -felt like I was suffocating!
This week, my unanticipated therapy is a sudden urge to rearrange furniture. Whatever works!