Breaking out of our cocoons
We hesitate, emerging laboriously from our COVID-19 cocoons, vaccinated and ready to venture into society. We eye strangers cautiously, wearing our masks to convey unity. There is no scarlet letter signifying compliance.
My body’s stiffness testifies to my joint replacements, decreased activity, and pandemic diet. Pain in previously healthy joints confirms the passing of time and onset of arthritis. Although I had put much of life on hold this past year, Time did not stand still.
Trying to catch up
I join an exercise class at a new gym with one of my favorite teachers. Yoga with a new instructor encourages my limbs to stretch and relax to prepare for life in a post-pandemic world.
The exercise pays off as I enjoy a family day on the lake, thankful that I have the strength to cling to my grandson as we are drawn through the water on a deflating inner tube. Thankful that I have enough strength to climb the flimsy ladder into the pontoon boat with moderate assistance from my husband.
(The alternative: dragged on the tube back to the pier. Although fodder for family lore, not a pretty picture.)
Close friends and family, also fully vaccinated, share hugs, converse without masks, play games and enjoy meals while sitting next to each other. Friends who were formerly averse to touch cling to our first embrace. A new experience: telling our friends that we love them. We will never again take community for granted.
My eyes search out friends as we arrange our social calendar. All of us have aged, some displaying disturbing decline within the past year. And then there are those who answered the roll called up yonder: Sherry, Stephen, Bob, Steve, Linda, Jerri, Michael, Lee, Frank, Larry.
Can one survive grief alone?
Only one friend was claimed by COVID. Others succumbed to diseases which claim those of my generation. All their families shared the experience of grieving alone. The rituals upon which we rely for closure and comfort were denied. Streamed funeral services, while helpful, do not replace firm embraces and hot casseroles.
Living with intention
My toes dip into the water of pre-pandemic life, working to recover ground lost in physical health. I look forward to resuming travel and social life. But I feel a need to move intentionally. The pandemic offered a great reset: choose my friends and my activities wisely. Taste new adventures, discard shackles. Live with intention.
First, I must comfort the survivors. We no longer want to live alone. We need to move forward together.