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.

4 thoughts on “Stretched & Fractured

  1. Spot on, my friend. I’m in total agreement with you. Your writing brought tears, and goosebumps.
    So very well expressed.

  2. Tears and goosebumps, what an apt description of the chaos. I would add anger and disappointment to that mix too. As you say, Dandelion Mama, we must keep going, but I am beginning to wonder what for…

  3. I am always grateful for your ability to express the important things in life.
    Life continues forward, so different than once anticipated. I continue the privilege of working from home. Our kids get to attend class (sometimes) – super safe at the International School here, but even Covid causes their school to go online more often than not – and Alex will graduate in a way we never anticipated. But she will graduate – and then do her first couple years of university online, continuing to travel with us to our next post.
    For a country that has not taken covid seriously, this week they have had to stop all routine medical care – including dentist – all hospitals are overrun with cases. We hole up in our house, our small circle, all vaccinated, and realize our privilege. We are safe, when so many around us don’t have the opportunity for safe vaccine (we do, even have a booster) – we can order groceries for delivery, and have technology to keep in touch with friends and family – to support each other best we can.
    And hope – hope that one day enough will be vaccinated for this to end. We can once again visit in person with friends and family – and our children can actually attend graduation from high school, and university and you can celebrate your law school graduation, which is been hard earned with sweat and tears and sleepless nights – and life will move forward.
    I love you my friend!

  4. Very well said. I have been very careful as I am over 60 and have some conditions that would be made much worsel if I did get covid. I have been vaccinated, and the people I work with have as well. My family has all been vaccinated, so I do go to my sister and brothers houses, but I still have been mostly at home alone the rest of the time. I am used to being alone, but when you have to be, it’s a different animal. You and your family take care.

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