January 5, 2021

How to Remember our Humanity, even when we’re Scared to Death.

2021 just began, and I’ve already been told that two people close to me have COVID.

They are two among millions as our country heads toward its spike. Our hospitals are full, oxygen is short, nurses and doctors are tired, and we have no idea of when the vaccine will be available for all, and I cry for these two people.

Which brings to mind the saying: if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it? Will my crying at my helplessness be heard by anyone in the entire universe but me?

The frustration of not being able to do anything to help is overwhelming. All I can do is cry out to my higher power for mercy, for my friends in their illness; for their families facing this uncertain, scary, and overwhelming time; for all the other families facing the same pain; for those who are burying their cremated dead at a distance; for the exhausted medical staff, in hopes that they might find a little more strength in their exhausted and injured souls to be kind to my friends.

I know I’m not alone in this pain, but what I do know is that a little kindness will go a long way.

Real kindness is possible, even at a mandatory distance. The type of kindness that so many of us have forgotten: empathetic kindness, virtual hugs when what you really want to do is enfold hurting people in your real arms, not just send emojis over Whatsapp.

Will we ever be able to do that again? Share the comfort of human touch? The hopelessness is deafening and defeating—and this is how we start a new year.

Let’s be kind and not forget our humanity, even when we’re scared to death—who knows when it might be us that someone else is feeling the same paralyzing helplessness over?

While we can, let kindness be the guiding force of our actions.

Let’s learn to smile through our eyes while our face is masked up and let the ones we love see the crinkles and creases at the sides of our eyes as we look at them with love; be yourself, even if that means letting your eyes well up with tears—be authentic, be real.

If you can, help that young couple with a baby—do it—even if it’s just a bib, a small jar of baby food, or some leftover dinner. You never know that it might just be the action that restores their hope again.

Don’t be judgmental—your life or the person you are judging might not be here tomorrow.

Check-in with your loved ones and your friends—the feeling that someone cares about you is priceless—even through a message on social media.

Share information that might be helpful; if you hear where oxygen is available, share it—it could be life for someone ill.

Listen—really listen—even if you’ve heard it all before, even if it’s your own fears being voiced, even if it takes superhuman strength to do so. Listen to the fear, the insecurity, the anger, the tears, and frustration. Listen, don’t try to fix—just listen, acknowledge, and validate the feelings coming at you.

As we cling to what’s left of normalcy in our lives, we need to dig deep to spare a thought and create a connection, possibly a lifeline. In our own protected bubbles of life, let someone know that you care.

Everyone knows we’re dicing with death, and we don’t know when it’s their time or ours. And the fear is in our eyes, our tone of voice, and the way we choose our words in response to the news.

The worst thing is the unguarded reaction to the news if we have to tell family and friends that we’ve been exposed. How much it hurts when you can feel the (understandable) self-centered questions being barked at us as family and friends try to work out a timeline.

Don’t do that; even if it’s your first reaction, it feels as if they have already thrown you away on the pyre of the rest of them. Instead, pause, breathe, and think before you speak. Be kind.

Don’t let anyone feel alone, don’t hold grudges. Life is short right now, so fill it with the kindness in your soul—it’s all we have to offer right now.

As the numbers become names—to quote a meme on Facebook—three more close friends have tested positive, and my heart breaks with the uncertainty of their recovery.

As I hold my metaphorical breath in fear, shock, disbelief, and anticipation, knowing I can’t do anything to help, I can be kind, check-in daily, be my authentic, empathetic self, and put my own words into practice and give the gift of kindness in the best way I can.



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