Something inside me is itchy, an internal prickling I can’t scratch.
I have more time than ever, yet I find myself unable to focus on anything. I am obsessed with scrolling, rarely compelled to click on links and certainly not finishing articles, no matter how important. I’m addicted to the headlines without the commitment of actually reading the stories behind them.
I’m anxious. Restless.
You know the feeling when, after spending days packing for a trip, you finally get on the road toward your destination, and that gnawing feeling that you’ve forgotten something settles in. That’s how I feel every second right now.
We’ve turned off the television, much to my husband’s dismay, to shelter my daughters from the panic a 24-hour news cycle can create right now. A few nights ago my 14-year-old shook with tears, explaining that her greatest fear had returned. A year ago at this time, Gracie began sleeping in our bedroom, terrified that her momma would lose her battle with cancer. It was hard. I’d survived the double mastectomy and was undergoing chemotherapy. My hair was gone, and I think that is what made it more real to her than surgery. She was afraid to sleep without her bald mom nearby, but at the same time, she was a teenager, craving independence.
Today, when it comes to COVID-19, she knows that her momma is in the high-risk category the news outlets say need to take extra precautions.
She sees the jokes and flippant comments on social media, indirectly relaying the message that folks like her mom are expendable. There’s a suggestion that COVID-19 isn’t a big deal because only 3% of the country is really at risk.
News flash. If your loved one is in that category, you don’t feel relieved to hear about the 97% that will walk away from this with mild symptoms. You feel terror for the 3% that could die. You have trouble falling asleep because without the noise and busyness of day, all of those odds overwhelm you, dragging you under in waves of what-ifs. In the dark, you drown in your fears.
You sneak into your mom’s or your sister’s bed, and you wait for the monster everyone is talking about.
In this house, we are holding our collective breath and waiting.
Gracie is not alone. There are about 10 million immune-compromised individuals in the United States. That’s 10,000,000. Each has loved ones who are worried about them right now. There are children going to bed every night, worrying that their mom, dad, grandparent, friend, aunt who survived cancer or lupus or diabetes will die from this virus.
Your words matter. Everything we say or share affects others, many in ways we can’t imagine.
Most of us feel itchy inside. Our world has been turned upside-down and inside-out, and however you are coping right now is normal, because this has never been done before by any of us. We are blazing the way. Let’s blaze it with kindness, understanding that what we say or share affects each other.
No one is expendable.
Let’s only share messages that remind each other of that.
Keep coloring, my friends.