Let’s just breathe”
The outside world was slightly muffled by the tall trees, and then the inside world was slightly muffled by the half-closed doorway. Still, I heard so much. Birdsong, distant construction, and car horns, maybe one mile away, or maybe five. Rider was playing with his feet on his lounger through the doorway and I heard all his soft baby noises, like sighs, and breaths, and those little infant noises of effort. “Eh, eh, eh.” Sleepless, sleepy, and like in a dream, I timed my breaths with the sways of the trees. It felt like everything at once. Where I’ve been, where I’m going, and most importantly, where I was right then (and am right now). Dreaming dreams. Breathing breaths.
Anxiety symptoms and allergy symptoms can feel like COVID symptoms as well. I try to get used to it, and also fight against it, but it also gets lost in the folds and loopholes of everything weird about right now, and that’s a lot weird. It’s not just the swirling thoughts and fears and how they change, but it’s also the swirling news stories and horrors and how they change. When you mix them together, yes, we’re all just writing our own rulebooks and doing a lot of erasing, crossing out, and rewriting. Tear out the pages, rip them up; start clean on another day. Or another hour. The decisions we’ve had to make for the past year are beyond the depths of the darker parts of our imaginations. Why should now be any different? Sending the kids to school, or maybe not.
Balancing and juggling mental health against physical health against emotional health against lurking dangers – from viruses and polluted air, to computer viruses, and those polluted, toxic chats, emails, and messages. Eye strain and headaches and stress like they never knew; might never have known. We can’t really speculate on that, though. This is our now. Let’s just breathe.
They were moving away from me, even if they didn’t know it. Still young, yes, but with their lives action-packed and stacked with school, homework, after school classes, activities, sports, play dates, sleepovers, and weekends away. Not since they were babies, have they ever been this close – literally breathing down my neck at times. This virus has been breathing down our necks too. Somehow, we survive, and sometimes (maybe) thrive. Somehow, it doesn’t ruin us. That we all crave space and have been stuck together. With SO much uncertainty and trauma and total horror. I mean, so much. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t ruin us. When the swaying breezes turn to howling winds, there’s a fortress building inside and around. It only grows stronger. Sturdier.
There’s so much in this world
To make me bleed”
And maybe the biggest threat isn’t even COVID, if we send them back to school. It’s the mental whiplash, the push and pull, the still deepening and healing, deepening then healing, trauma. There’s the saturated sweetness of this past year together, bunkered and hunkered down – but bolstered against and with each other. Intertwined like the breeze through these swaying trees, and how they reach out to one another. The howling winds and storms form them differently, as they hunch over, but reach for one another. Exposed roots and stripped bark are facts of life. So is waiting out the storms, and being built (always rebuilding) to last. I’m amazed at how a virus or a wicked storm can fell a single tree in one snap, while others seemingly stand strong forever.
Often, I think back with sweetness on life before COVID. MY life before COVID. I don’t want it back. Of course I miss the freedom I thought I had, although the threats of pandemics and meteors and natural disasters are probably always lurking with a dull hum in the background. I’m not sure I miss the me then. We have a lot to grieve and answer for, and it’s not just the pandemic. It’s the variety of situations and disorders and disturbances that were already there, but now they’re freshly and hotly exposed. I can’t even fathom the mental illness impacts, on a small local level, and on a global one. I do believe, though, that most of us will prevail. We will travel and dine and hug and kiss. Things will be forever changed, and we hope that’s the case. The technology is changing, the thoughtfulness is changing, and the businesses are changing.
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah, others they got none”
It’s the breathing in and out; it’s the grieving in and out. Sometimes I can miss being pregnant so deeply that it brings me to my knees, even though it was achy and scary, and the baby now is SO healthy and SO bright-eyed and SO funny, healthy, beautiful, promising, happy. Sometimes I even miss, will miss, the first of year of this pandemic, even though it’s been achy and super scary, and yet so full of promise and fulfillment. Entire days spent in hammocks with books. This strange and saturated time together. Last night, he had a sweet nursing session before bed and kept stopping to grin at me. I snuck him downstairs for a last burst of energy with all of us.
You’re all I see”
The sunrise marks its arrival with the shadows of trees against our walls. Up now, over the canopies, onto tables and beams and faces. After all this time, the mornings beat to their own jagged rhythms. The clatter of dishes and eggs in a pan; Lucy jumping on the bed and then upending the cat, who was wrapped around my head. The kids open and close their secret doors, and pad across the new floors. There’s the silence of them all retreating at similar times into bedrooms and home offices. Cassidy and Lucy heading in to work. Then, the baby grins up at me and squeals; his trusting face knowing where to look and what he will find. I know it too.
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t, I’m a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
As I come clean”
We worry a little less these days, one by one, as loved ones get dose 1 and then dose 2, and numbers steadily fall, at least around here. We worry a little more these days, one by one, as this tight-knit, cozy, crazed, safer pod grows. We’re growing new limbs and leaves, and huddling closer to other tight-knit, cozy, crazed, safer pods. It’s a ride. Will they stay safe? Will we stay safe? How will our emotions change with the breezes, and the winds, both soft at times, and howling too? I worry until there’s nothing else to worry about, letting it catch on my breath, and then blowing it softly and silently into the abyss. To catch on a branch or two, and then fly away.
As I look upon your face
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave”