Looking around, all you can see is a sea of masked faces. A pair of eyes peaking out over the fabric carefully covering the mouth and nose, elastic bound behind their ears. People. Friendly faces, now mostly unrecognizable.
Voices muffled. It’s hard to talk, suffocating in fact, especially for someone who is as lively as I. Even harder to listen. Words inaudible, difficult to understand behind the strip of cotton covering even the slightest of facial features.
Move from line to line. Tape marking the ground indicating where to stand. Six feet apart, the safest distance to be to stay healthy, supposedly.
Large sheets of plexiglass, adding more space in between people, barriers.
Shelves are lacking in necessary items. Empty spaces that were once full, now completely wiped out. Limits on items being purchased, yet the high demand for certain products is highly visible.
Schools are closed. Distance learning is finally over, here at least. But most kids mentally checked out much before the actual end. There has been an endless amount of busy work, paper packets and online apps all attempting to recreate the familiar learning environment.
Temperature readers at the front of the medical building. Walk up, stand in line. Pass questionnaire proceed through the door. Use hand sanitizer.
The seats at the doctor’s office are mostly empty. A laminated sheet separates the fixed chairs indicating the importance of leaving space between, even though the lobby is a ghost town.
No community to embrace. No coffee dates, dinner dates, nothing.
What is this life we are living?
I fluctuate between completely calm to utter panic.
At home, I forget about the greater risks looming somewhere out there.
When I am out, the sheer act of pulling a mask over my face causes me to be unable to catch my breath.
I remind myself over and over, we are ok. We are safe. We are healthy.
The masks and gloves and gowns trigger something deep inside of me. Flashbacks to an intense season. A season full of uncertainty. A season I was barely hanging onto the Hope.
I remind myself, this is not that season. But seeing a person in a mask, a face that is unreadable and completely unrecognizable takes me back to those excruciatingly long and painful days I watched Bernadette in the second greatest fight of her life.
I had moments I questioned whether or not I would be going home with my infant. A perpetual season of isolation, of intense worry and fear, and continual clinging to every last shred of hope I could muster up, begging God to see me through.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Do any of us? I know that I have to constantly remind myself the truth, that whether or not I feel it or see it, God is doing a great work, even if it’s in my own heart.
The times that I have fought the hardest are the times that I have seen complete life changes within me. The days I sat bedside by my little girl, the days I fought to get out of bed after my world had been completely turned upside-down, the days that I simply didn’t want to take another step or put one foot in front of the other or face another moment or put myself up by the bootstraps… those are the days that have forced me to look to the only place I can, upwards. And also, to allow the grace of God to pour over me, even if those were the days I laid in bed.
The days are hard for a myriad of reasons. Reasons that seem to completely fog any sense of typical life. Each one dragging on longer than the last, scoffing me as it goes.
The first several weeks, my naturally optimistic side would greet me, shining in the light of a new day almost tricking me into believing that day would be different than the day before. Was it? No. I found myself constantly surprised by my own emotions and feelings of incredible inadequacy, taken aback by the kids inability to remain calm and peaceful, and my new found title as be all the things to all the tiny people I am in charge of.
Realism took over and the perpetual state of shock slowly began to fade. But along with it, my zeal for life. And while I know that I am in a constant struggle of how to be present not only for myself but my husband and daughters, I find that fades off into the background as the reality of the situation chokes it out of me.
But, I press on and into God. No one knows how long this season will last or what life will look like on the other side. What I do know is that God remains the same, unchanging, unmovable.