Sign of the Times
Say, like, on day #66 of Shelter in Place which also happens to be day #TooMany of a godforsaken migraine that has had me hiding in a darkened room like a gothy troll.
As in: today. I haven't been outside in two days because sunlight has been so hard to take. But the love of my life has been pouring himself into our garden these days and I wanted to support him, so I ventured out cautiously to see his handiwork. I was not prepared for the many ways in which the world would bombard me.
First, it was just too bright out there, and all that glorious light hurt my head and eyes. While I expected the pain, I did not expect the anger -- which I definitely felt, sharp and sudden. I was instantly furious because I love the outdoors and do not like it causing me pain and discomfort. So there I was, walking down my front path with a little bit of rage.
Second, Rick has done so much work! Seeing our beautiful garden emerge – RE-emerge – is impressive and gratitude-inducing and wonderful. It made me so happy. A few more steps down the walk, and rage and joy were hand in hand.
Third, the air outside smelled so sweet and fresh it made me want to weep. It reminded me that Coronavirus sucks, that migraines sucks, and that both are conspiring to trick me into not realizing that the world keeps turning and the season of renewal is here. The beautiful earth keeps doing her thing, and when virtually everything else seems to be completely falling apart, the glory of Springtime is profound and also, the best news ever. Spring felt so good on my skin and all around me, and now, on my walk down the sidewalk, I felt a little melty.
And fourth: that sign. That "Proud Home of a 2020 Graduate" sign we put up the other day. I can't even with that sign. I have all the feels about that sign. Rick put it up in the front yard for us, and I feel love and pride and joy that I have this small gesture to offer for my daughter, and at the same time, I feel a little crazy from the frustration, and yes, a little more rage at the helplessness of missing the rituals of graduation and celebration. Rituals matter. They mark time for us, they shine a spotlight on people. I want that for Lola. She deserves it.
She doesn't deserve it more than anyone else: she deserves it because everyone does and every single life needs its moments to be honored. So, she won't get this one, at least not in the way any of us expected. Next week, we will take her, decked out in cap and gown, to campus to walk through an empty gym and be filmed receiving her diploma. The school is producing a graduation video and streaming it on the original graduation day; we will watch from home. She won't get her Senior Prom, senior ditch day, last day of school, Baccalaureate Mass, or Graduation Ceremony. She'll have other rituals in her life, and I know, in the long run, she will be fine. So why am I swinging back and forth so hard between "whatever, graduations are long and boring, usually too hot, with too many speeches, and like two seconds where you get to hear your graduate's name" and "give me my moment in the sun to reflect on 18 years of love and support and hope and aspiration and becoming and beauty and joy, and give it to me in public with balloons and flowers and other people telling her how special she is!"
I can't decide where to land.
Not that it matters where I land, since I have no say in the matter. It's just that I'm keenly aware that my mind and heart are all over the map these days. I'm high in the treetops of love and gratitude for my family and knowing that having them safe and whole is having absolutely everything, and simultaneously way down low in the swamp of rage and helplessness from not being in control of what's happening and wanting so badly for so many things to be different.
So this is what I realized when I walked out the front door today: I'm walking with love and joy, rage and fear, gratitude and frustration. Maybe tomorrow, if I'm brave enough, I'll venture farther than the sidewalk and learn even more about how overwhelming the world can be.
* * *