The last six weeks have brought with them a plethora of emotions. Fear, sadness, loneliness, hope, beauty, anger, courage and a side of some really amazing memes.
But the two states of mind that I keep circling back to the most are gratitude and grief. They are the two sides of the COVID-19 coin. We all the flip the coin throughout the day. Sometimes you land on grief. The hard, the pain, the heavy. And sometimes you land on gratitude. You feel lucky. And grateful. And hopeful. The coin has a way of interchanging within us either way and back and forth each and every day.
What we have to remember is that it is not only possible but it is okay to carry both sides simultaneously. The grief for what we have not only lost but we ache for. The gratitude for now seeing and appreciating all that we have taken for granted.
We grieve collectively. We feel so much for the earned beautiful space in time that is March through June. All of the events and get togethers and sports. All of the things that people not only work the whole year for but sometimes so many years for. We break for all of the high school seniors and all of that they have worked for- this is the reward season of the awards and the Prom and the graduation and the closure on the last twelve years. For the athletes, the actors, the dancers, the uniforms and costumes have already all been purchased to go unworn, the dedication and hours have been put in and the fields and stages have to remain empty. We feel for the teachers that have to relearn how they teach without the reward of seeing and connecting with their students and they wonder what type of gap they will be walking into next year that they will have to attempt to bridge.
I myself have twins in the fifth grade at the elementary school that we have been at for an entire decade. It is the longest span that we will ever be at any school. So, there will be no finality on what will be one of the most impactful chapters in our lives. No goodbye hugs for the teachers that have poured so much into them. No slideshow of their baby photos. No tear-jerking song that the children sing to the rows of filming parents. No celebratory meal after graduation. No water guns to spray the other kids when they get off the bus. No last day.
This virus has taken away all of our victory laps.
And then there are the weddings faced with a choice to completely shift or to reschedule. Gowns await in closets. All major events, concerts, travel sometimes planned years in advance are on hold. We are living in a To Be Determined world. Almost every single business has been affected in some way. Unemployment is sky high. The financial impact of all of it is just too much to even fully wrap our heads around. But for me, the hardest of all the grief, is for those who are grieving. Those who have lost someone that they love during this time, there are just no words. Sorry is not enough to scratch the depth of not only the loss, but the timing of the loss. It is the ultimate in unfairness. I read of a realtor who lost both her husband and her only child from the coronavirus within three days of each other. People that she loved would just go up to her front door one at a time and put their hands on it so they could grieve and cry with her through a pane of glass. The burial was a drive by service. A friend of mine from college lost her husband too soon from cancer on the night before he was supposed to start his chemo treatments. She has three young sons. There just can never be full closure when you can’t hug the people who loved you and your person- it prolongs the inevitable incomparable season of grief. There just can be no celebration of life when we are not in a place in time when we don’t know when celebrations or life can resume. What should be a period at the end of a hard episode is now a question mark. The right words for this just do not exist.
But then there is the gratitude.
There is light in this pause. We always yearn for time. And now we don’t get to escape or avoid it, we get a chance to just be still. Feel what needs to be felt. We get to listen to the ones we live with and hold them in this space. We rush so quickly all the time that we rarely get to experience what stillness and our own thoughts bring to the table. There was so much we didn’t even realize that we had before, all the small beautiful things. And now we really get to appreciate what it will be like to experience them again.
And now the world has less pollution. We all are checking in on one another. We have empathy for the roller coaster of emotions that is not just felt in one community but all over the globe. We get to sit down as a family for dinner, a rarity for us anytime but especially in the spring. We get to play outside more. We get to exhale more. We have asked simplicity to take the wheel for once. We get evenings and weekends again. We get a break from the constant whirlwind of it all. The perpetual repeat of “We are going to be late! Where are your cleats? Do your homework!” Our homework now is one another. We get a chance to evaluate what we love and who we show up for and what we will want to let back into our lives in our redefined normal.
Let us all carry into our future selves what we have learned from as our present selves. Let us all try to be better. Let us seek out the gratitude in the pause.
Last night I asked each of my kids to tell me something that makes them feel sad during this quarantine and something that they feel grateful for. And they all had answers for both. And so did I. Gratitude and grief. Both demand and deserve to be felt.
Katie has a book out that is a collection of quotes and mic drops to embrace your inner warrior. “Girl Power” is available on Amazon and is the perfect gift for all the warriors in your world. You can find out more details and book signing info on her instagram @katieyackleymoore. Endless thanks for reading. Xo
Katie Yackley Moore is a freelance writer, real estate agent, yoga instructor and a momma of four navigating life and a separation and finding herself in the process. She adores coffee shops, laughing until it hurts and impromptu dance parties. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamalode and HuffPost Parents. She has published a journal entitled “Dream a Bigger Dream” and the children’s books “You Are a Warrior” and “We are Family” and just finished her first novel. Catch up with her between tea breaks at The Naked Momma and on Facebook.