Standing in front of Mom’s beautifully organized desk, I find myself unfolding a receipt for a dance class at the local retirement center, it’s country western, and my first desperate thought is can she get her money back?
I know, it’s trifling, but honest.
This is my go-to defense, focus on the trival, avoid painful emotions at all cost, because the truth is I feel tortured by a future that will never be. These are my weapons against reason, and they are worthy until the trigger jams, and the advantage goes to the assailant.
Prior to an untreatable diagnosis of cancer Mom was planning her future.
It was one of those distilling moments when an entire life is reduced to a slip of paper, stamped in red, paid in full.
It points to an unsalvageable reality, and I stand there staring out the window of life, riddled with unrequited pain over a dance class. She’ll never learn the two-step and for reasons unknown this makes me inordinately sad.
I don’t know why this memory comes to mind today, almost three years after her death, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the collective canceling of our lives, as we enter into phase one of our recovery. It feels as if they are working on the broader issues, not pettifogging the details, because I haven’t a clue what phase one actually means?
What I do know is I feel like a cloistered nun, my routines have become sacred rituals, and although the silence can be deafening, I worry that I am becoming overly accustomed to this lifestyle? Clearly, I’ll have to relearn all my social skills, I only had a few, and one of them was a handshake. And by the way I have no use for those triune words, “get over it,” I tend to cling to things as if a dryer sheet, this is my metaphor people, and rolling your eyes is juvenile.
Feel free to use it should you find yourself in a tumble (okay, I’ll stop).
The prognosis is not grand, if we somehow survive this global pandemic, we do so with catastrophic financial losses, health ramifications that will last for decades, not to mentions the devastating loss of life, and the unknown implications of a modified future we’ve yet to define.
That’s my annoying pessimistic side, when she shows up I try to ignore her, but she has a Judy Garland complex, always demanding center stage. Wasn’t it Søren Kierkegaard who said that “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
I say anxiety feels more like disordered restrictions?
This month alone my daughter was forced to cancel her bachelorette party, and as if a long line of dominoes, the rest came tumbling down ~ bridal showers, weekend get-a-ways, vacations, gatherings, celebrations, religious services, dinner parties, and most agonizing of all reservations at my favorite restaurants, all due to an “untenable” virus with enormous range.
By far the most difficult sacrifice has been postponing my daughter’s wedding, tags not yet removed from the beautiful white dress hanging in a closet, while I ruminate on the vision of her walking gracefully down the aisle on the arm of her father, ready to marry her beloved.
We can reschedule these events but they won’t be the same, we’ll need twice the space, and half the guests.
Life may never be the same, but mostly it’s the crippling adjustments, and endless frustrations that are taking a toll. Roy Bennett says, “If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” Is this guy for real?
I now have half a years salary (which isn’t saying much) being held hostage not only by Groupon, but the Airlines, travel services, Airbnbs, the Catholic Church, and a rock band, all refusing to return deposits for plans that have been disrupted by this unexpected pandemic.
Isn’t this considered an act of God?
The Dalai Lama advises, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” Can I just say I do not believe any of the above services would refuse to give the Dalai Lama his money back? So I worry, needlessly, but worry nonetheless.
I had to giggle at Groupon’s customer service who diligently tried to convince us that coronavirus is from an infected bat, not God, and therefore our deposit will remain non-refundable. Okay, I get it, sometimes we don’t get our money back, but I refuse to surrender my hope. I still believe there are countless possibilities in any given situation.
That’s where I’m putting my money!
So I stand at my hastily constructed desk in the master bedroom, looking out the window of life, feeling tugged by the future. I read somewhere that just because the things that have befallen us are not good does not mean they are any less miraculous? There is no lack of love, joy, and possibility in our lives, I just have to hold onto this notion for a while longer. As John Lennon claims, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
I believe Mom’s learning the two-step in some heavenly cowboy joint with Dad, I remember when he smiled he looked twenty years younger, maybe that’s because our hearts never age.
What adjustments have you made to accommodate our quarantined lifestyle?
- “A spiritual reinterpretation of events gives us miraculous authority to command the winds, to part the waters, and to break all chains that bind us.”
- “Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind.” Buddha
- “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” Winston Churchill
- “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” Anne Lamott