My mother died 12 years ago today. I’ve been thinking about her more than usual, which means instead of five times a day, it’s ten times. Like you, I’m in a slight state of shock that my life has been upended by quarantine, working from home, distancing from family and friends, and having no real idea where this is all going. We don’t like it, do we? Some of us are whining on Facebook and others are in the streets protesting that their second amendment rights are being violated. Wherever you fall between those two extremes, this moment requires diving deep to find patience, resolve, resilience and wisdom.
My mother lived with diabetes for 52 years. She existed in a body that could betray her at any moment and one that put her at the top of the hierarchal “at-risk” category. If she were alive right now, I would never let her step foot out of the house. After twelve years gone, however, my mother is still teaching me. She lived her life without guarantees, but with a steady peace that often rubbed up against my restless complaining. “This too shall pass,” she would say – which used to really piss me off. I thought it was far too sanguine for a life motto, but as it turns out it’s a courageous and resilient way to live. And it’s also true, which I didn’t learn until enough terrible things did indeed pass and I was still standing. My mother didn’t throw a fit about how she got stuck with a body that kept her chained to insulin shots and dialysis three days a week for the last ten years of her life. She lifted her chin, took a deep breath and did what she had to do to stay healthy and alive. I saw her do it hundreds of times in the 43 years I knew her. It wasn’t convenient, easy, or what she wanted, but she did it.
This is a time for all of us to learn how to live with the tension of “this too shall pass” and the resolve to be diligent and wise until it has passed. I’m going to wear my mask, keep distancing, learn to be content at home, help my neighbors when I can, and find a little bit of good in the imperfect days. None of this is going away soon, so it’s time to learn how to be stronger than we ever thought we could be.
Steady on, friends.