Since the start of the pandemic, like so many of you, my emotions have been a roller coast ride. But one day earlier this week as I was reading the news on my back porch with my coffee and dog, a wave of sadness washed over me. Bigger than anything I’ve experienced in this chaos, it caught me by surprise as tears rushed to my eyes.
Doctors and nurses are drowning with no lifeboats in sight. Teachers are hanging on a cliff waiting to hear final decisions about schools reopening. Business owners go to work, wondering if today is the day someone walks in and threatens or commits violence because they’re asked to wear a mask.
Every day, I learn more about the surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. I imagine just how many people are walking the floor with desperate worry about loved ones they can’t be with. How many are bent over double with grief from the loss of spouses, partners, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and children?
I’ve been reading book after book on racism, and my thoughts are filled with my African American friends and people of color I don’t know and never will. How do they bear the truth of what happened to their ancestors – the beatings, rape, torture and lynchings? How do they stomach the murders of people like Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, to mention just a few from a long list.
I can’t help but compare my own life experiences to those of others I’m so conscious of right now.
So far, my family and friends have been spared the virus, but not so for over 3 million people in our country which includes over 135,000 deaths. And we know there’s more to come.
None of my ancestors were enslaved. None of my relatives were hung from a tree simply because of the color of their skin. And we know that racism still rages in this country and that more tragedies are likely to happen.
You wouldn’t know it by reading this, but I’m a hopeful person by nature. Down inside, burning low but steady under this heavy blanket of sadness, my hope survives.
This time we’re living in has brought some hard truths our way. To fully wake up means seeing it all, feeling it all, living with it all. As much as it hurts, I choose being awake, knowing what I know, with every bit of this heartbreak and every ounce of this sorrow.