8 April 2020 — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

 

Dear Diary,

Yesterday was fury. Today is grief. Can tomorrow be joy, please? Or peace? Or even numbness? I’m also willing to consider disinterest or indifference. 

Today, though. Blerg. 

I remember the first day of kindergarten for this kid.

It was 2007, she was five years old, and she was officially part of the high school Class of 2020. 

There were signs — WELCOME, CLASS OF 2020 — and news articles. 

Clear vision, bright futures for these babies born just after 9/11. 

And a rough road for this one.

She’s navigated it, though. Developmental and learning disabilities. Countless I.E.P. meetings. A few suspensions while she learned the tough lessons that there are consequences for some of our more nefarious, less kind actions.

But SHE DID IT. It was harder for her than for others, and she did it anyway. I COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD OF THIS CHILD. She can do hard things. She’s proven it again and again. And she’s supposed to graduate in June. A marker of all she’s worked so hard to accomplish.

Today, though, Oregon schools officially closed for the remainder of the school year. No prom. No good-byes. No yearbook signings. No hugs from teachers. Just an abrupt halt and a murky future. What are the next steps? No one knows.

Yes, we knew it was coming. But no, that doesn’t make it easier. 

So today I’m sad. For her. For her peers. For their dedicated teachers who are also torn up by this. For all of the bright and beautiful Class of 2020.

And I’m sad for my kids who are part of the college Class of 2020, too. 

Who won’t get to walk for graduation. Or have their parents and grandparents travel to celebrate. There will be no parties with peers or final gatherings on the beach. No moving of the tassels or tossing of the mortar boards.

Just quietly finishing classes online, packing up alone, and flying home to live with us indefinitely. No jobs available, and, when they are, a workforce of millions applying for them. College loans to pay without a way to pay them. No government stimulus checks for them at all. The wedding they’ve planned for June? Who knows? The honeymoon? Unlikely. 

Life on hold.

In about five weeks, we’ll have a house of seven again. Greg and me, three of our four adult children, and … are they officially 8th grade now?… teenage twins whose peer relationships have moved online.

And we’re the lucky ones because — for now — our shelter and food supply aren’t threatened. For the foreseeable future, we keep our house and heat and beds and bread. And we have each other. I’m grateful for all those things. I really am.

Also, I’m sad, Diary.

Really sad.

Yours,

 

 

 

P.S. Today’s also the day Bernie Sanders left the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Joe Biden will be the candidate opposing Trump. Neither Sanders nor Biden was my first choice. Or my second. Or my third. Or my fourth or fifth. But I want to acknowledge the sadness Bernie supporters are feeling today. It’s a huge blow to have someone who gave you hope of change to be stepping down. Sending my love to you. We can move forward together another day on rallying the vote to defeat Trump. For today, I’m sad with you in solidarity. ❤️ 

P.P.S. I’m going to go make cookie dough and stand in the sun. 

P.P.P.S. Waving in the dark, friends. 

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
9 comments
  1. Trip to attend college grad and US Army Officer commissioning of our niece, cancelled (plus, you know, seeing that entire family). Her brother’s college grad ceremony also cancelled. Big trailer camping trip — including 2 national parks AND meeting up with long-time friends made via the internet, cancelled. Birthday celebrations that included comedy and musical shows plus dinners with my BFF, cancelled. High school grads for 2 other nephews, cancelled. One son’s career on hold while he’s hunkered down far away. I haven’t hugged the grandloves in over 2 months and their mama is high risk. And I’m going a bit crazy hunkered down here with 3 extreme introverts who claim this doesn’t bother or even really affect them. Plus they’re all of the opposite gender and heaven forbid anyone have FEELINGS. And, you know, I’m supposed to be sewing masks which is making me throw my hands up in the air because PLEATS! Pleats are difficult. Who knew I should have bought elastic 2 months ago?!
    Hang in there. All of this sucks. One day we’ll come through on the other side.

  2. I am heartbroken for all of the kiddos who are missing the rites of passage that celebrate their hard work and achievements. I’m thinking of them today, and their parents and families, too. Some days are filled with sadness, but hoping for the joy to show up tomorrow. Yep, tomorrow.

  3. Yep. So sorry for your seniors in all this. My 7th grader is holding up reasonably well, but I haven’t seen my other kid in over a month. I am not a crier (which is weird in itself, because I was totally a crier for the first 40 years of my life), but yesterday I just alternated between napping and sitting blankly, even though there was plenty I was supposed to be doing. Like yours, my family is safe and sound, but there’s that whole “waiting for the other shoe to drop” feeling still, of wondering if the virus will come closer to my life, not to mention wondering if my country is becoming some sort of lawless dictatorship.

    Cookie dough definitely helps. That and walks, which I tell myself TOTALLY balance out the baking.

  4. This all hurts so deep down in my soul. There are kiddos I love that have worked so hard and done great things. They have so much to celebrate, but there are no celebrations! So many are left with incredible sadness and fear as they try to fend for themselves. I hurt with you who are facing this virus head on and I grieve with you all! I can only allow myself to be in this space for a little while and then I have to shut it down until I can handle doing a little more grieving. It will take a long time. My heart is with you all who know this only too well. I grieve for the families that have had loved ones lost and are devastated! I abhor the sweet, but inaccurate sentiment: “We’ll all get through this together” because we won’t all get through this. Yes helping each other is the right thing to do, but some won’t ever stop grieving. So I grieve a bit each day and then go look for the sunshine so I won’t totally lose my cool. Love to all you out there who are hurting beyond understanding. I heart you! Ibunya

  5. My twins are devastated to be moving up to the next school for third grade without their moving up ceremony or saying goodbye to teachers and staff. This all just sucks

  6. We have a 6yo who suddenly announces she feels really sad and I just think, Of course you do. There was an almighty meltdown over tangled scotch tape this morning. My husband asked what had happened and I thought, Her whole world has fallen apart.
    So, a little hug for ourselves and our loved ones. Try not to let the sadness overwhelm us to the point we cannot function. So much easier said than done.
    Apparently jumping on the bed, making up a crazy song, is a great way of feeling better. Xo

  7. I wrote a list of all the things I’m grieving the other week, and it was so much longer than I expected. And, like all grief, it’s not over. It hits me at unexpected times, triggered by relevant and irrelevant causes. I’ll go days being at peace, or at least as much as an introvert mom with kids on the cusp of puberty can be at peace (day 27 of quarantine begins tomorrow!), and then, wham! grief strikes, and I’m eating my feelings or snapping at the kids or sobbing in the relative privacy of the bedroom or lamenting like a biblical prophet or psalmist of old (and I’m so thankful the biblical authors didn’t hide from grief and despair over suffering and death and injustice and fear and sin, because it lets me, in my wiser moments, turn my laments and grief toward the only One who can offer peace and hope). So, grieving with you in the dark of this world, even as we know, deep down, that someday, Light Wins.

  8. I’m sad too. No graduates yet in my crew, but every couple of days, our youngest (he’s 4) will remind us of how hard this is on him. He’ll be happily playing play doh and suddenly slow down, head drops and he’s crying. Or he watches a video of his teacher or OT from school and he’s smiling and enjoying them, then bursts into tears. Our 4th grader has insomnia and a “bad bubbly pain in my tummy; maybe I’m nervous but I don’t know why”. And our middle kid is stuck like glue to me. They’re safe, well fed, loved, sheltered but their world has completely shifted and I don’t think they truly grasp why and that it will end someday. I fear that when it does return to normal, they may never regain that complete surety in the normalcy of their world…will they always be waiting for a simple news story to slowly turn into a lock down that lasts months and deprives them of their school family, friends, playgrounds and routines? I’m afraid (this is crazy but true) of future pandemics for them when we’re long gone – this will without a doubt happen again and again given climate change and humans impinging further and further onto wild spaces. What if the next one is faster and more deadly for everyone; what if I’m not here to make sure they have enough of everything to not have to take risks for basic needs?

  9. I feel you. My son was nominated as a possible speaker at his Master’s graduation, which probably won’t be happening. My 10 month old grandson lives only 50 minutes away, and in the time that we haven’t been able to physically see him he has started to cut his teeth, learned to crawl, and bbbbb his own lips. So many major life events are happening in very unconventional ways. Congratulations on your graduations and blowing a kiss for your heartache. Kim

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