Twenty-nine years ago on this date, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was so little. There’s no way I could pronounce Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, nevertheless understand what was happening in my body.
Childhood cancer is unique in that it doesn’t disrupt the patient’s life like it would an adult’s. The foundation of life isn’t yet there for disruption: a young child experiences the first hospital stay, the first round of chemo, the first spinal tap in the same way that children experience their first day of kindergarten, their first time riding a bike, and their first time tying their shoes.
In August, I resurrected this old blog with intentions of getting back in the groove of frequent posting. It struck me that my youngest would soon be in a threes program at a local preschool for three and a half hours, three days a week. I could now expect to have ten and a half uninterrupted hours a week to position myself toward some long-term goals and create new habits that weren’t accessible with a lack of childcare.
The last time I started a post was 360 days ago, on “COVID-19 Pandemic, Day 154.” My friend had just died.
It was covid related, but not covid. He wasn’t rushed to the hospital with shortness of breath, no invasive intubation, no taking his last breaths through a machine, surrounded by healthcare workers made unrecognizable by PPE.
I know that title sounds like clickbait, but hear me out!
Have you ever heard of Freecycle or Buy Nothing Project? Each are worldwide organizations created in order to waste reduction within your local community. Some people call these types of communities a “gift economy.” It’s all about sharing your unwanted used items (or, you know, the ones you planned on using, but didn’t) with your neighbors. Instead of donating the items you no longer need or want to Goodwill, you’re giving directly to a neighbor or someone in your town, with the possibility that you’ll receive something else you want or need for free as well. Continue reading “A Simple Trick to Get Free Stuff, Declutter, and Make New Local Connections”→
Day 42. I feel surprisingly good. I have a thing about limbo. I love the game (I’m under 5 feet tall, I always win) but I can’t stand the feeling. Can’t stand the in-between. It was a huge struggle for me when we moved across the country. I wasn’t sure if we were moving, where we would move to, when our first house would sell. It was similarly difficult when we had sold our second house and were waiting to move into the home we’re in now. I’m adaptable. I can handle what is thrown at me. But waiting for the pitch, I get impatient.
There’s a lot of imagery that defines this strange, restless, panicked time. Major monuments, tourist destinations and airports without crowds. People queuing outside with gloved hands on their shopping carts, face masks covering their nose and mouth, waiting their turn to shop in Trader Joe’s. Masks on face after face. That look of fear as someone is walking on the same side of the road in the opposite direction as another and they don’t know how they’ll keep six feet as they near.
Those are the images of social distancing. I realize that the imagery is far more grim in the hospitals, but those experiences are not mine to share.
As I near the end of week five of social distancing, I have more hope than I did throughout the first month, like when I posted on day 10, day 14, and day 25.
The home front has its challenges as well. We’ve been baking bread and eating non-perishables for weeks as we make our groceries stretch as far as they can. With this stretching, though, last week we found ourselves stressing. My husband and I were bickering about what our tween was eating almost every day. Catching him sneaking snacks became a really big deal. We were forgetting that being extra safe was a choice, not a sentence.
On top of that, a tween doing what a tween does: complain. A toddler doing what toddlers do: tantrum.
If you’re thinking, ‘where’s the hope in that?!’ I get it. I think it’s primarily that we’re settling into routine, and that we had a lot of sunshine this past week. It’s a few hours my husband’s blocked off from meetings during my toddler’s nap time so I’ve gotten alone time walking around my town–time to BREATHE that I hadn’t had quite enough of before. It’s back to being a collaborative couple, looking for ways to take care of one another. More time playing catch & frisbee outside, more hands in the dirt gardening, more sword fights with sticks against the little guy. It’s getting a brand new book in the mail after suffering through a couple of low-quality thrifted ones I never got around to reading before (I see now why). Those little moments I decided I would seek out in my last post about the quarantine.
Sometimes those little moments of light are ignited by messages of hope I’ve seen on my walks, or people have shared on our county’s rainbow hunt Facebook page. Little reminders of the beauty after the storm. Sometimes it’s seeing a fully bloomed tree, a splash of color that reminds me that nothing lasts forever.
These are the images I want to focus on. Individual people and families taking time out to uplift a stranger in a time of crisis and despair. A reminder that even if our government is failing us, the American people are still good hearted and deserving. That we’re surrounded by heroes, big, small, willing and many who didn’t sign up for this, but are fighting anyway.
Times are hard, but the best I can do right now is to share a bit of the beauty, gratitude and kindness that I’ve come across during these times.
Spent week three of social distancing trying not to succumb to despair. Hope feels like a distant memory, but I have to remember that any moment in time is just as fleeting as spring-it comes, it blooms, it withers, and new things are on the horizon.
I don’t have a lot of hope for what’s happening, what will happen next or after that. Dark times are here and more are following. But in dark times there are still bright moments. You find something someone else planted, years before you, in your own backyard. For brief moments, your home feels just like home, not the fortress from fear of what surrounds us. There is still sunshine, flowers, food in the pantry, and love even in a world full of sickness, death, greed and corruption.
Positive thinking and self care won’t cure the hurt I feel for the outside world, but as I go through this fourth week of #quarantine, I’ll try to shift my focus to the moments right in front of me.
It’s day fourteen now. Two weeks in. Friends and family that live back in Texas are just starting their social distancing journey; Houston’s stay at home order started at midnight Tuesday. Homeschooling began Monday for them. On social media, they’ve started talking about how much they love being at home, how they were made for this.