The pandemic that has had our world in its grasp for much of 2020 is still haunting us all. We are wearing masks to keep from spreading the virus, staying apart from others when shopping, talking, or having any number of ordinarily safe interactions. Suddenly, our beautiful world seems dark and dangerous, and we feel as if we are living a nightmare. Autumn is my favorite time of year, but this year I am worried about my grandchildren being in school — how can we expect young children to stay apart and remember to wear their masks and wash their hands frequently. These are the same children who are used to running up and hugging their friends, sharing lunches together, whispering secrets in each others’ ears. For me, as an adult, it is frustrating — wearing my mask makes my glasses steam up. Grocery shopping is a joke — my glasses are so steamy I can’t read food labels.
I have a deep sense of imminent peril much of the time. I can’t read the paper or listen to the news without hearing death statistics. I literally wipe down everything I buy and bring into my house. I keep thinking to myself, “You must calm down — this isn’t helping” but my mind doesn’t listen.
The only thing that really helps me deal with my anxiety is to be with friends and loved ones — to talk about other things, to laugh with each other, to find strength from the bond of friendship or family that we share. And yes, we are careful. For the most part, we don’t sit close together or hug (although I do admit to a few good hugs).
Outside dining has been a blessing to us all — I’ve shared lunches and brunches with friends, sitting in the fresh air, with a canopy keeping us cool. Who ever would have imagined that we would be so grateful for these times together. Maybe one of the best results of this terrible pandemic will be a new understanding of just how much we really need our friends. Through the years, we have laughed with them, and cried with them, and even argued with them, but this pandemic has shown us that we really NEED them. Time together is an essential part of our lives.
And so, each time my mind begins to scurry towards the unthinkable heartbreak this pandemic has caused, I think instead of the joy I feel when I am sitting with a friend, sipping a drink, eating, talking, and laughing. Alas, family and friends are truly our greatest blessing in this life.