During “voluntary isolation” I’ve been sleeping remarkably well, but this morning I woke up at 3:48 am… absolutely terrified. Of everything.
I opened facebook and read Chris Strickling’s amazing May 1st post. She lives in Izamal and every morning she takes a pre-dawn bike ride. When she gets home, she uploads the photos she took, her thoughts and observations. And this morning, like me, she seems frightened… of many things, but not seeing far-away loved ones, ever again, is the scariest of all.
My 67th birthday is just a few days away, and right now, I am remembering my 6th one. On that day, my parents gave me my own room. It was a surprise to me, but they acted as though I should be thrilled. I was one of those children who always wanted to please the grownups, and so I acted “thrilled”. I thanked my grandmother for sewing the turquoise comforter with little pink roses embroidered along the edge. I insisted on phoning my Godmother (long distance, no less) to thank her for mailing me the fluffy pink throw rug to place beside the bed. My toes would not ever hit a cold floor, thanks to that rug. I could look out my window and see the mini carnations and white daisies that Mom planted in a flower box. I thought it all looked perfect, except the closet… my “very own closet” spooked me from the start. And once the sun set, I got more and more worried about what might be lurking in there at night. Mr. Boogeyman got into my head and would not leave. He let me worry-away, night after night. Of course I told my parents that I was scared (the room was in the unfinished downstairs, and everyone else slept upstairs) They tried to tell me I was a “big girl now” and I had nothing to be anxious about. My mom said she would never put me in an unsafe bedroom… surely I knew that?
My Dad understood me though, and he got cracking on the finishing of my brothers’ space, called thereafter: “The Boys’ Room”. And with two of them in that room around the corner, I felt much more secure. My “very own closet” and the laundry room with its noisy furnace and bumping-banging pipes separated me from my brothers, but if things got dicey, I figured I was a pretty good runner and I’d be able to sprint past the beasts and get to the safety of Peter and Stephen’s bedroom before it did to me, whatever it had planned… Tommy eventually joined my other two brothers, and Anne also became one of “The Downstairs Kids”. Barb and Cathy never moved to the depths; they shared the upstairs room that I originally slept in with my two brothers, before I got my “very own room”. When John, the last of us eight siblings came along, his crib was set up in the 6 X 9 space that had once been a small playroom. I must have believed that my big family kept that boogeyman away. And probably that is how I came to feel most secure with lots of family around me. I am missing them so much.
COVID 19 is the Boogeyman. And after sixty-one years of exile, he is back in my life. I can’t see the virus, or feel its presence. I won’t hear it if it sneaks up on me. It is not like tobacco or “barnyards”; the virus’ proximity is not announced by an evil smell in the air, nor will it leave a scratchy taste in my mouth. No, none of that… This 2020 Boogeyman is the real deal.
We need a re-play, and we can’t do so on our own. We have to learn to get along and stop this infernal bickering. To accomplish this we need a more level playing field. As I learned as a child… all of us are happiest when surrounded by those we love. And … if we aren’t… divided we fall.