I’ve written a series of posts over the last five or six weeks to record the experience of living through the pandemic, trying to find some good news among all the darkness. Writing them has been therapeutic for me, and from the responses I’ve gotten, I know that they’ve resonated for others. I am, however, finding it harder and harder to find the light in the darkness. But I am trying.
The last two weeks have made it harder because the virus has come to my community with a vengeance. Many people have died, including the mother of one of my dear friends and the sister of another friend. Our local nursing homes have been ravaged, including 21 deaths in the Jewish Nursing Home near us. Other friends have had loved ones become ill with the virus. I live in dread of hearing that my mother or someone in her memory care facility is infected. My anxiety level has increased to the point that most of the things I was finding helpful—long walks, yoga, Zoom sessions—are becoming less effective.
And the rush of some to resume “normal life” even though it means risking more lives, including their own, is infuriating, as are the actions of those who are putting political ambition and money above the health and well-being of people.
But I know we are among the very fortunate ones. We have a safe home, resources to pay for what we need, food in the house and delivery services bringing more as needed, and, so far, our health. We have the support network of our children, our relatives, our friends, and our community. We have each other. I am always mindful of that.
My three cats are a real source of comfort; they are oblivious to what’s going on outside, and they only care that we are here to feed them and to pet them. They cuddle up next to me day and night and give me some peace.
And little things make me smile. Our neighbors drawing hearts on all the driveways and leaving painted stones on all the doorsteps and paper flowers taped to our windows.
The discovery of more places to walk where we can avoid close contact with people and enjoy the quiet of nature continues to be soothing.
The weekly Shabbat Shalom zooms with family are a needed break from the constant talk of COVID19. Who cannot smile when a five-year-old wants to play Twenty Questions by Zoom?
This week my younger daughter was celebrated by her friends on what would have been Marathon Monday with cards and posters and a bottle of champagne. I can’t tell you how much that meant to her and to us.
There is so much love out there, and the best of human nature can outshine the darkness of illness, death, and the suffering of so many.
One small example from my genealogical activities. While all this has been going on, I’ve connected with a few more cousins who found me through my blog. I think people stuck at home are turning to family history for consolation and also are uncovering photographs and letters that were buried in boxes or trunks in their attics and basements.
One of these cousins sent me scans of some photographs of my Benedict cousins, including this terribly torn photograph of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, the first cousin of my great-grandfather Isadore Schoenthal:
I was thrilled to receive this photograph—a definite moment of joy. But heartbroken that Hannah’s photo was so damaged. Could it be repaired, I wondered?
I posted it in the Free Photo Restoration group on Facebook, and when I woke up the next morning, three group members had posted repaired versions. Aren’t they amazing?
These people obviously spent a great deal of time fixing this photograph and asked for nothing in return. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It made me smile, and it reminded me once again that most people are kind and good and generous and loving.
I need to keep all these reminders in front of me as things outside get scarier and scarier.