Despite it all, the flowers still bloom.
Updated: Apr 5, 2020
For the first time, at least for as long as I have been alive, the entire world is going through the same thing simultaneously. This virus is not selective; it doesn’t care who you pray to, who you vote for, who you kiss, where you live or how much money you have. We can’t bribe it to go in another direction, we don’t get spared if we’ve made good choices, it simply attacks anyone that gets in its way. The only way to avoid it, is to honor the protocols asked of us, like washing our hands, using hand sanitizer and staying home as much as we can. We are all having to change the way we have been doing things for years and while it hasn’t been easy, it makes sense to me and it is the right thing to do. I want to be a part of what flattens the curve.
As a hospice nurse I have spent hours and hours at the bedside of patients who were taking their very last breaths. I have held their hands, rubbed their backs, and sat so close to them I could feel their breath on my face. And after they take their last breath, I turn to face those left behind and I hug them until they let go first. But now, there is no hugging, no touching and very little bedside care. This is very hard for us to do; we are having to learn a new way to provide comfort and care at the end of life and it is almost the exact opposite of what we have been doing all along. We are having to be there from afar and cut our visits short… which is hard for me. I can’t even imagine how it must be for the families of patients who are under lock down in a facility. To not be able to see them must be heartbreaking.
Social media and modern technology have allowed us to reach out to the family and friends we are separated from; it keeps us connected in a way that helps us feel less isolated. I have had daily visits with my kids and my granddaughters, cocktails with friends and more texts and phone calls in a few days than I have had in months. I have written letters and mailed cards to people just to let them know I love them, and they matter to me. While it has tried hard to separate us, the virus instead has pulled us together.
I find myself in awe of the way our neighborhoods and communities have rallied together to support one another. I have watched people offer to help those who are alone, donating supplies when needed, offering to drop off food or walk dogs. I believe that in general people want to be kind and while we are all riddled with fear and worry, our kindness has risen to the challenge of not allowing us to crumble and fall.
I think it is fair to say that things will get worse before they get better and our sparkle might try to dull. The negative attitude we have all been trying to avoid taunts us and tries to beat us down. Staying home for days on end can invite feelings of depression and despair, allowing negativity to win. We have to stop it in its tracks, we have to continue to hold each other up, support one another and listen when someone asks for help… even when it might be said in a very hushed whisper.
Every morning as I begin to start my day, I walk out to my garden and I smile as I see new flowers that have bloomed. I think to myself… despite it all, the flowers still bloom… and that inspires me to believe that we will get through this. We may have scars and bruises, but we will come out of it stronger than we were before, perhaps even kinder. Let’s continue to practice social distancing and stay the six feet apart but let’s promise not to let it separate us completely. Let's continue to hold out hope.
Photo credit: A special "thank you" to Emily Parker who drew this. The moment I saw it, I felt it speak to me. She is incredibly talented.