There’s an old saying I’ve always liked that says, “Always remember: wherever you go, there you are!” When I first heard it, I appreciated the humor of a saying that doesn’t seem to have much of a message at all. But the more I thought about it, I realized that wasn’t quite true. Because let’s face it, there are times in our lives when we find ourselves in a situation that we didn’t plan for or in a place where we never intended to be. And worst of all, we have no idea of just exactly how we’re supposed to respond to it.
When I first heard about this pandemic, I naively thought that it would be a rather short-term thing, which made it so much easier to cope with. But as time wore on, I found myself truly grieving for the life that I had before the nasty little virus showed up turned everything upside down. I missed the little things, like going out to dinner with my husband after a long day, or browsing through my favorite antique shop. I wanted to be able to buy groceries without needing a face mask, disinfecting cloths, hand sanitizer, and a whole lot of patience.
One by one, trips and events that I had been looking forward to were cancelled: three weddings, a family reunion, and a week on the beaches of our beloved Sanibel Island. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Easter, and Father’s Day all had to be celebrated without our traditional family gatherings. I hated explaining to my mother that the big 90th birthday party she had been looking forward to so much was going to have to be put off indefinitely. Worst of all was being afraid to hold my newborn granddaughter because it might not be safe for her.
This isn’t at all where I wanted to be, and yet here I am. And the only choice I have is how I’m going to react to it.
I’d love to lie and say that I’ve handled it with real maturity and grace. (This is a social media, where we all put our best, and often false, face on for everyone to see.) But the truth is that the constant stream of bad news and challenges can wear me out. Sometimes I find myself just wanting to retreat from it all, effectively putting my life on hold until things are better.
Luckily, I know that’s not really the choice I want to make. And I know that because whenever I push myself to “get back out there” and live my life just as fully as I safely can, I immediately feel better. Grocery shopping these days can feel surreal, but when I discover they’ve finally restocked my favorite frozen pizza, the trip to the store seems so worth it. While I can’t gather with my friends and family in large groups anymore, when we invite another couple over for drinks on our patio, I still have a good time. And when I watch my son feed his new daughter, I feel nothing but happiness.
I’ve always had a nasty habit of waiting for my problems to go away so that I can begin to enjoy myself. But the problems this pandemic has brought aren’t going away any time soon, nor are some very real personal issues my family is facing right now. So I have to keep reminding myself that this is my life now, and that in spite of the challenges, there is still so very much to be treasured and enjoyed. Because life is always for living, right here and right now.