2020

This is it.

I was doing my best to stay back from the people in front of me as my face covering kept slipping. My efforts to create the six-feet distance seemed silly as others swarmed around me in the busy store. Like a salmon unsure of how to swim upstream, I tentatively wrapped my little fins around me wondering if this big ol’ river was safe. As I followed my husband through the aisles, I looked ahead and watched a man pause.

As he stood still, I did too, waiting to move forward as I kept my space.

This man removed his mask, sneezed, and then put the face covering back on.

I was furious.

“You wear the mask to stop the sneeze!” I thought to myself “Ohhhhh my Gosh!”

I wanted to pull my hair, to yell at him, to shriek what the heck he was missing! I felt my muscles tense and my annoyance rise. I’ve never hated being around people more. 

I stood still longer, silently praying thanks for my own face mask and wondering how long it takes for germs to disperse before I walked through his invisible, fearful cloud of possible germs. 

I continued forward and was uncomfortable for the next twenty minutes we spent in Home Depot. Get in, get our supplies, get out.

I know I can’t be the only one worried in public places and at the same time, by the looks of things, there are thousands of people not worrying as much as me.

Our neighbors are gathering and stores are busy and friends are posting pictures of time spent on the lake. I’m still sitting, writing from my couch, wondering what dials will have to turn for me to feel safe again out in the world. I miss my mom and want a hug and wonder when my brother will be able to go back to work. This isn’t fun.

We drove back home and washed our hands and wiped down the cans of paint we purchased with off-brand, lemon-scented cleaner because Clorox wipes are still nowhere to be found.

Later in the evening, I turned on an old favorite movie, About Time. The main character Tim has the gift of being able to travel back in time and can re-live any day he chooses. There are consequences of the re-dos but mostly, his gift gives him the ability to live less anxiously, be more present, and delight in the extraordinary ordinary things around him. The things we worry about are easier to face if we know the outcomes don’t cause us pain.

I kept thinking while watching the movie, if I went back to today two weeks from now and stood in that same concrete, box store would I be kinder to the man who sneezed if I knew I wasn’t infected. I would have gone down a different aisle. I would have pulled Dylan closer and slowed my breathing. Or would I have chosen to avoid that store all together?

What would I do differently if I knew now what I’ll know in two weeks? The exercise is exhausting, isn’t it?

Here’s what I know now.

This is it.

We don’t get a do over. I don’t get to go back.

I may have to spend much of my thirty second year in my house, wondering, waiting, worrying.

When they say it is safe again, I’ll wander out and get emotional about sitting in a public park and plan vacations and toast champagne at weddings and still, new anxieties will present themselves. The world will give me something else to be scared of.

Moving through things doesn’t erase fears – the process of arriving on the other side means I’ll place my anxious claws into something else. Worrying and wondering just wastes my time today.

This is it.

How can I live differently here in these pandemic days while I wait?

I asked my friend to pray for me – may I have compassion for the people who aren’t taking this as seriously as I am. Compassion for myself and my family. May I be at peace. May I use my creative energy to invest in the things I love to do, even while home. May I honor the outbursts and fits and tears coming from the stress of this global melt down.

Our world is changed and my little world, here on the big blue couch with the sun streaming in, still offers a chance for peace. I may be missing out, but this won’t be forever.

david-mao-m0l5J8Lqnzo-unsplash

The sun is up. The garden is being watered. The coffee is hot. Books begging to be read beckon. I’m breathing.

This is my life, here and now.

As Tim says, “We’re all traveling through time together every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.”

What a beautiful thing.

Day 67 – 52 Good Things

As states start to open up, my confidence in being in public waivers. I felt brave and brought cookies to a friend. Panicked when someone I know got tested. Went to the hardware store to buy flowers and wanted to yell at those not wearing masks. I wonder if I’m missing out by staying home and still practicing presence by remembering to take things one moment at a time. I’m still home and still counting. Here are a few more good and beautiful things, even during a pandemic.

What’s on your list? Send me an email and we’ll keep counting together.

190. Irises cut fresh from the front yard

191. Plant starters given freely

192. The promise of tomatoes

193. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

194. Ham and cheese and bread

195. Clean water with slices of lemon

195. The Fitzgerald cocktail 

196. Bike Rides through neighborhoods

197. Waiting for Colorado Strong Pale Ale

198. Big, long, snotty cries

199. Puppy snuggles

200.  Warm nights with the windows open

 

 

In All the Rooms of My House

I grabbed the blue handle and tucked the blades into the red, re-usable grocery bag.

“I’m going to go try” I told Dylan as I put on my sandals.

“Ok, good luck” he shouted up from the basement.

I’d spent the last hour psyching myself up for the task. I was going to do something I’d been thinking about for the five years we’ve lived here.

At the corner of a busy intersection where you can turn into our neighborhood sit three large lilac bushes. Each year they bloom and the blossoms sit and open their fragrance to the cars driving by. Without attention, the plants flicker and fade.

Technically, the bushes sit on public property tucked behind cement sidewalk and rest along a worn wooden fence to the west.

Fewer cars are driving by these days and I wanted to give the blossoms a home. My home.

Technically, it’s stealing right? Cutting blooms off of a plant not my own?

Hence the apprehension and covert attempt at covering my scissors in a silly grocery bag. I don’t like breaking rules, getting yelled at, or being conspicuous.

I slammed the door behind me and breathed in purpose. I walked the winding streets and approached the intersection. The only car near me was driven by a teenage boy clearly not paying attention to the woman dressed in unassuming athletic shorts and Saturday gray t-shirt.

I once again grabbed the blue handles, opened the blade, and snipped, snipped, snipped. I wasn’t greedy and took only three bundles of blooms, tucking them into the bottom of my bag.

I sighed and walked back home. No one said a thing.

Opening the cupboard, I found jam jars, and mason jars, and a wine glass and filled the vessels with cool water. I pulled off the green leaves and snipped branches again to make mini bouquets of flowers knowing their essence will only last so long.

I placed the jars in all the rooms of my house.

And the fragrance of lilac slept next to my pillow, reminding me of the good and simple beauty on my nightstand while I breathed in dreams.

The little blooms are fading today, trying to hold on to their strength when they were removed from their source to live out their own purpose.

The sight of light purple, the smell of spring, small rebellions and gratitude for public plants doing their thing. All beautiful things.

rodion-kutsaev-M0NcxA2ktLM-unsplash

 

Because of you.

Yesterday I woke and wept. Just a little bit. I miss him.

I made his favorite coffee and shuffled down the five steps into my ground level office to work. I wondered if others would think of him and tried to remember the way he started his birthdays.

Quiet. Like most mornings.

So I started that way too.

Through out the day these acts of kindness buzzed into my phone and I’m forever grateful for the people who did something kind in remembrance of Roy. There’s still time.

Because of you, the following energy and acts of goodness entered the world.

#1. A donation was made in his name to the Rhett Syndrome Foundation

#2. A neighbor was brought fresh scones

#3. Another family was given hand-me down clothes

#4. A woman left a Starbucks gift card on a car parked in spot # 63

#5. A friend received potted flowers in a homemade arrangement

#6. A friend who just lost his dad to COVID received zucchini muffins and a listening ear

#7. Two kids were read to online

#8. A teacher stayed online just a bit longer because she could tell he needed to chat

#9. A friend was gifted a t-shirt

#10. Coffee and doughnuts were delivered to two Bay area hospitals. Special request for Pikes Place

#11. Cheerios and bagels were brought to the Food Bank in Milliken

#12. A neighbor’s sprinkler was fixed

#13. A brother brought the Corvette into the garage

#14. A friend downloaded and made pretty an online planner for a surprise gift

#15. Cupcakes were brought to a boyfriend’s best friend’s wife

#16. Fresh cookies were given to the delivery guy

#17. A friend gave out snacks and water to a homeless person

#18. Cookies were dropped on an aunt’s porch

Thank you for helping me remember. Thank you for being kind. If you feel inspired, keep up the random acts of kindness and send them my way.

63 Random Acts

63 random acts

It’s his birthday tomorrow. It bothers me that I have to sit down and do the math to remember the number of years he would have acquired. The days don’t matter so much, but the forever stuck at 58 continues to be odd to me.

We would have gone to a baseball game, a new tradition started by the survivors three years ago. Except the MLB is on pause and hot dogs don’t taste as good when you aren’t in the stands.

We would have eaten a burger joint and let grease down our hands as we sipped beers in frosty mugs or dipped fries in milkshakes.

We would have licked on cones of cinnamon ice cream or made fun of him how he ate his ice cream from a cup with a spoon.

He would have eaten pizza with a fork.

He would have splurged on a tall cup of Pikes Place coffee and let it beep in the microwave all day long.

He would have steak and salad for dinner.

We would have done all sorts of things.

Grief throws a wrench in things. Add on a pandemic and anniversaries and birthdays and milestones seem to melt into something murky and weird with a few sprinkles thrown in.

63.

He would have been 63.

So this year, I’m hoping to inspire another sort of list and hoping you can help. I am wondering how many random acts of kindness we can accomplish in honor of Roy on May 15th, 2020.

Drop some cookies at a neighbors. Pay for the people behind you in the drive-thru line. Bring flowers to a friend. Draw some chalk on a driveway. Send a love note. Tip a delivery driver more than you usually would. Donate to a charity.

I want to get a list of 63 ways to care for the world in honor of my dad tomorrow. Send me a pic or a note of your random act, and I’ll see how many we can get. Gestures don’t have to be big to make a difference.

Join me in remembering and celebrating my dad. In helping others. In celebrating while we are far away and from behind screens and windows and walls.

Let’s get to 63. You can start today.

We aren’t doing enough.

I dreamt with him last night.

swingWe were at an amusement park and I was strapped in to one of those large swings for adults. The yellow bucket seat was cold on my legs and my sleeping self felt afraid of the lacking worn-nylon restraint. I could only see out, and down over the rolling hills and green grass, but I knew he was sitting in the swing behind me.

When the ride ended and we landed, we sat on a bench with people from all stages of my life. He handed me a white McDonald’s bag, the yellow arches pronounced on the front.

“Sorry I had to go” he said.

I woke with an adrenaline rush of sadness and a soft smile and I said to myself, “I bet that bag was full of burgers.”

Dad doesn’t come to me in dreams all that often. It’s a tortuous balance of comfort and despair upon waking. These glimpses of him spun in a storytelling of bizarre memories, recollections, and persistent reminders of the anxieties of where we are currently, living without him.

I keep thinking, as a nation, as a globe, we aren’t doing enough for new grievers. Our president isn’t saying sorry; no empathy drips from his lips. The online communities I’m a part of are trying –  touching on our triggers and sharing reluctant welcomes to the clubs none of us wanted to be a part of in the first place. While online tributes teach us how to facilitate a virtual funeral, few leaders are acknowledging emotional pain. Few news outlets are telling stories of the encounters, the painful goodbyes from screens, or sharing the connection between personalities and preferences of actual humans who make the numbers tick up, up, up.

All over the globe, thousands are taking their steps into the first weeks and months of mourning. Milestones are met without. We’re being reminded of the pervasiveness of loss daily, and still, very few are saying, “I’m so sorry you’re here. That our lack of response led to this painful unraveling and gaping whole you now live with.”

We aren’t doing enough to create space, to hold space, to allow such dark feelings, questions, and unfathomable realities.

Instead we are fighting on Twitter, and bickering about masks, and continuing to hope for less restriction and more connection.

I continue to pray, please not me, and still desire to help. I don’t have profound wisdom and my dad did not communicate anything wise to me about our current situation.

He just gave me a bag of supposed burgers in my semi-concious state. None of us are really sure what to do.

This week, I went to Starbucks for the first time in eight weeks. The drive-thru felt beautiful and as the signature green straw plunged into my plastic cup full of coveted vanilla latte, I sighed with gratitude. And then I washed my hands.

We are still here, in this pandemic, hoping, and wondering, and still being ourselves.

Part of myself, my journey, my searching, my purpose, is to help people in pain.

I can point fingers and blame and say the grand “THEY” aren’t doing enough.

And I can turn, once again, to where I have control. From my kitchen table, I choose to still use words to share pain, and hope, and comfort, and acceptance for the dark places in people’s lives.

I’m so sorry we’re here. That people are dying by the thousands and our culture doesn’t know how to talk about grief. That you’re here and you’re hurting and that this year will forever be one that changed your life.

Perhaps soon, your people will come to you in your dreams.

Until then, I recommend the drive-thru. Starbucks or McDonalds. What gives you comfort in cups, in memories, in connection. You’re feeling now and that’s a beautiful thing.

 

Day 51 – 52 Good Things

So close to 52. I didn’t think we’d get here and I’m rather surprised the amount of energy it takes to make a mental list of good things still surrounding us. But I continue searching and invite you to join me as we stay home and stay safe.

I’m called again, in whispers, to remember the choices we make when things seem the bleakest are opportunities for our wondering souls. What we focus on, while not ignoring painful realities, makes or breaks our spirits.

In conversations with friends and co-workers and texts and Instagram conversations, I’m reminded to look for the good.

181. Seeds for plant starts

182. Fingernails covered in dirt

183. An evening breeze through an open window

184. Aleve for back pain

185. Grocery delivery

185. Peanut M&Ms

186. Cacio e Pepe

187. Signs of support (contributed by Christine C)

-7618050827395310633

188. WhatsApp

189. Letters to children read via Instagram

What good and beautiful things are you seeing in your life these days? Please send them to me at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com