This morning, I woke from a lovely dream.
I was at the beach on a sunny day. There were kids and friends and sun-warmed bodies, lying close together. There was laughter and warmth and playfulness.
And then I remembered what was going on in the world and how life has changed and the feeling in my body went from light to tense. All in a second. This experience reminds me of what people say when they’ve lost someone close to them. Upon waking, it takes a few seconds to remember the person is gone. That small moment of forgetting is bliss. The remembering is crushing.
I recently read an article about the collective feeling state this pandemic is causing. The writer says: “That discomfort you’re feeling is grief. If we can name it, perhaps we can manage it.”
If what we are experiencing is grief—the loss of the way things used to be—then would it help us to acknowledge and name what we are missing? But also what we are enjoying during this time? Would it help us to name our fears and also what we’re grateful for?
I’ll go first and if this speaks to you, you can do your own writing about what you miss, what you’re enjoying, what you’re afraid of, and what you’re grateful for.
I miss our large, beautiful urban park called Point Pleasant, where I went daily with the dog and saw happy, smiling strangers. I miss tea with friends, walking close, and hugging. I miss sitting in a cafe and being surrounded by the noise of conversation, music, and the espresso machine. I am grieving my child’s freedom and feeling sad that her birthday is coming up and she can’t see her friends. I miss ease and convenience and choice. I am grieving a more innocent state of mind.
I am enjoying quiet and less traffic and more birdsong. I am marvelling at the generous love of the animal friends we share our home with, and their constancy. I love sitting against the oak tree in our backyard and feeling connected to something wise and old, something that has weathered many storms. Sometimes, I think I can actually feel the Earth coming back into balance, as air travel and consumerism slow. I am loving more time with our kids. Their smiles and their hugs feel even more sweet to me and our shared laughter, even more restorative. I enjoy knowing that we’re all in this together – the oneness, around the world, is palpable now.
I am afraid for my parents who are self-isolating three provinces away. I am scared of what this is doing to our children. I fear for women with violent partners, people living on the street, and families in poverty. I am frightened for countries with already broken or inadequate health care systems. I am fearful of the terrible uncertainty and not knowing how the world will look after this.
I am grateful for whales swimming deep beneath the sea, for birds flying high in the sky, for the cycles of nature, and spring flowers. I am grateful for poetry and songs and books and art and colour and yoga and deep breaths and for the act and solace of writing. I am so glad that I stopped drinking four years ago and that I allow myself to feel all my feelings now, no matter how uncomfortable. I feel blessed to live in Canada and to have good neighbours and friends who take the time to drop off cards or check in. I am so grateful to know love and to be loved and to be part of an extended and supportive family community. I am grateful for tears, that I let flow easily now, whenever I want to, because there are lots of reasons to cry and the tears feel cleansing and good.
As this time continues to unfold for all of us, remember the restorative, calming, and healing power of the act of writing, of words on paper. And remember you’re not alone.