I counted nineteen hearts on my front window today. Nineteen bright and colorful hearts. One heart for each day we’ve voluntarily isolated ourselves at home because of Covid-19.
I don’t know why I started doing it, but it’s given me a small purpose. Each morning I take the dog out. Feed him, feed the fish. Make a pot of coffee. And then I march into the living room to decide which color I will use to mark that specific day. I haven’t done a blue heart in awhile. Perhaps I will tomorrow.
Weeks before our governor ordered the entire state to stay at home, my husband’s boss shut the office down. At first he was to be working from home for two weeks, then four. If the date isn’t changed again, it will be a total of six weeks at his makeshift office next to the bed.
We are one of the lucky families. My husband still gets paid from his bedroom office. I was already homeschooling, have been for years now. There was no learning curve for me. We are all healthy. We are all safe. But still, I have to tell you, I am not okay.
I can’t say I’m a particularly social person, but I’m desperately missing my friends. I go outside every single day, walking the dog, waving to neighbors from a distance. But I miss freedom. I miss space.
I worry about the people who have lost their jobs, as well as the ones who still have to go to theirs. I worry about them worrying, for they must be. I worry about those who are made more vulnerable in the shadow of this disease. I get lost in wondering how long this new normal will be.
I get angry when I think of the deliberate misinformation coming from the one place we should all trust. I could bash my head into a brick wall for each senseless death that chaos has caused. I fear for otherwise good people who, for some reason, continue to believe the lies.
The undercurrent of anxiety eats away at my insides. I try to keep the fear at a low simmer, so I don’t infect the others. When I can’t hold it in anymore I cry, away and alone, so I can let it be unapologetically ugly.
I distract myself with games and books and movies, but it’s always there. Sometimes the husband I will take brief moments to whisper our fears to each other. Then we get back to other things, mundane tasks, because you kind of have to.
Pandemic life reminds me of my time being ill. It’s just more concentrated. The fear is there. Sharp stabs of hopelessness that you can’t let yourself dwell upon. There’s exhaustion and gnawing dread, and dreams of what life will be like when it’s all over. Instead of years, though, I’m doing it in a matter of weeks.
And you’re doing it. We are all doing it. We’re experiencing this madness all together at once. For me, that feels equally comforting and sad.
The one great thing illness taught me is that everything is always temporary. The fear and misery I felt on those long days with chemo eventually gave way to joy and newfound excitement in simple things. I cling to that.
All our days will not be like these. One day it will be safe again to move around, visit friends, return to work. One day a trip to the grocery store will be just another boring chore. One day we’ll all be set free.
The newness won’t all be good, but I can tell you that isn’t all bad. You’ll remember things, but they’ll teach you more than they’ll haunt you. You’ll mourn in varying degrees, but you’ll heal. We’ll heal, each of us together.
Today, I’m 1000% not okay and I needed to say it. I needed to let it be known. Thankfully, I remembered that one day I will be okay, one day we all will. It won’t always be this way.
And that’s what I thought of when I drew today’s heart, the nineteenth one. I chose purple today, this day when I was decidedly not okay. I drew it even though I felt a little broken and definitely didn’t want to. I drew it because I kind of have to.
*Featured image courtesy of Pixabay