Stretched & Fractured

I know I’m not the only one out here not doing so great…

There appears to be two worlds emerging from this chaos. In one circle there are people who have carried on, returned to “normal” (if they ever stopped at all) and are moving through the world as if Covid never happened—even though it’s still killing people. In the other circle there are those of us who took seriously the risk to the vulnerable, took seriously that literally millions of people have died around the world, including over 700,000 in the US. We locked down, we kept our bubbles, we took great care when necessity required we leave our bubble because we knew it wasn’t only ourselves we risked harming.

There are entire dissertations to be written on the multiverse that is the United States right now. That’s way bigger of a bite than I am qualified to take or even attempt to manage. But I see it. I’m stripped of the privilege of believing that people’s better natures would win out. I am stripped of the privilege of thinking “not here, it can’t happen here.” I don’t think I will ever recover the safety and security I once enjoyed. And maybe that’s fine, maybe I needed to lose that.

I can’t attend my church again and sit next to people who blatantly demonstrated their disregard for the lives of the vulnerable, the elderly. Watching folks who claim the same faith I do and then make excuses for letting some people die, for placing their convenience above the right of another person to live. A person doesn’t get over that. A person doesn’t forget that. I think it was Maya Angelou who said “When people show you who they are, believe them.” I understand now, ma’am.

America showed the world that we are so selfish and so foolish that we allowed basic science and public health protocols to become litmus tests of political affiliation, and performative political affiliation was more important than protecting the elderly, the disabled, and eventually, even more important than our own children. Of course it wasn’t all of us. But there were enough that it tipped the scales dangerously and cost so many…so many…lives. And millions of us shrugged, while the rest of us tried to hold ourselves and everything together.

In my own house—in my greater family thank god—there has been care. Everyone in both of our families has taken the last 19 months seriously. All of our parents and siblings and their spouses are vaccinated, collectively more than 30 people, with about a dozen children still too young. That’s been a calming reality for me, that our people have not betrayed their love for one another in favor of pottage. But we live in communities where some are cavalier, and we are not immune from the sickening effects of their stupidity.

Are my words harsh? I don’t know, go to the NICU at your nearest hospital and ask those nurses. Go to the morgue in your county and ask the coroner how they’re doing. I am commanded to mourn with those who mourn, and I have to love everyone as a believer in Jesus, but I don’t have to be perfect at it, and I don’t have to place myself in danger to do so.

Because we chose to take a deadly pandemic seriously, every facet of our lives has been affected. We both work remotely (full acknowledgement of the privilege inherent to do so). Most of our kids school remotely. In about five weeks, I will have completed 73 units of law school remotely. Nothing about it has been easy. There’s been a mental health toll, a physical health toll, an emotional toll. We have not seen our extended families. We have missed holidays and birthdays and anniversaries and births. We watched as other people did these things because they, too, were tired of being alone—and then watched as the damage and casualties resulted. Someone I know attended a funeral in person and was one of 38 people from the funeral to test positive. Jon’s uncle died, and we attended the funeral via zoom. Jon’s been in the ICU too many times pre-Covid to roll those dice now. Nothing is worth that.

Will I get a law school graduation? Maybe. I’m sad about the prospect of not, but I also will not endanger my family or others by satisfying something I want as more important than someone else’s life. I worry about what I have missed in isolation that I would have otherwise learned had covid never happened. But it did, and my law school experience is something the entire legal classes of 20, 21, and 22 are going to carry with us, for better and for worse. I am hoping there is good that can be mined from it—that we can increase accessibility for the disabled, make work and life more balanced, decrease unnecessary commutes, and have a familiarity with technical assistance devices that will allow us to serve clients better. That’s my hope.

I had my second quarantine birthday, and now we all have had two while in isolation. This is one of those things I think its good we didn’t know and couldn’t see when this all started. It would have felt far to heavy to digest. And yet here we are. Abby turned 15, Kelsey and Bean both turned 18, Jeff turned 20, Jon had a 50th. None of the things we wished to do to celebrate those milestones was possible. So we place those hopes and dreams in a box, to be taken out sometimes in the indeterminate future of “when all this is over.”

The next five weeks are going to be hard. My class load isn’t particularly heavy, at least compared with previous semesters, but I am also working 25-30 hours a week on top of full-time school. And homeschooling two kids. And starting bar prep. And it’s a lot. But like everything else, you just keep going. What else are you going to do?

I hope you and yours are well. I hope time brings healing to what currently feels like unbridgeable breaches of collective trust. I hope. But I don’t know anything anymore.