— Richard Marx (@richardmarx) May 31, 2021
For some, it is the unofficial beginning of summer (instead of a time to honor those killed in war) filled with parades, picnics, and all sorts of family gatherings.
It is Memorial Day weekend here in the United States.
This year, in particular, more people will be getting together than 12 months ago on this day. We are coming out of some of the darkest days that this country has experienced and are more than eager to regain some semblance of normalcy.
I was about to say that we are more than ready to get back to normal, but then I realized that isn’t the truth for everyone.
This morning, I was speaking at an interfaith community that I have attended since 2001. The topic was “Soul-Deep Musings.”
Here is the description that was part of the Zoom invitation:
“This past year has been a wild roller coaster ride for all of us…and not always the fun kind with hands above our heads, screaming wheeee at the top of our lungs! A little more than a year ago, I joined others worldwide in self-solituding. It presented challenges and the opportunity to engage in an inner exploration that I was too busy to give time and attention to. It has yielded immeasurable treasures that have will leave me forever changed.”
During the service, a friend shared an observation that even though we are all in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat—his boat and mine were dramatically different.
While I have remained healthy and employed full time, he contracted COVID-19 early on in the pandemic and rode the tsunami on his own.
Although his ship of dreams didn’t completely capsize, he has residual effects, including a concussion from coughing too hard. In addition, as a gig worker (storyteller, speaker, musician, and children’s education trainer), his work dried up, and he needed to rely on assistance to keep his boat afloat.
There are those who lost loved ones, and for them, the waves still threaten to pull them under when their grief surfaces like a terrifying, multi-tentacled sea monster.
Even though they may have adapted to the reality that there will always be that empty seat at the table, it still feels surrealistic.
Anger and love are interwoven for some. Anger that this situation was not taken seriously by some who still think of the virus as a hoax.
Anger that people refused to mask up, complaining that it infringed on their personal rights.
As a species, will we ever return to normal?
I hope not. Normal wasn’t serving us. Normal led to what we are facing now.
It was normal to accept bigotry. It was normal to accept the inferiority of people based on skin color, gender, sexual identity, religion, or country of origin.
It was normal to close our eyes and say we agree to disagree on life and death matters. It was normal to deny the climate crisis and keep on abusing planet Earth.
It was normal to accept police brutality even as people’s cars and lawns bear Back the Blue signs or the distortion of the stars and stripes into a blue line flag.
It has become normal for some to vote for someone who undermines the structure and foundation of this country.
It has become normal for some to accept the Big Lie even though it has been disproven countless times.
It has become normal to turn heads away from the trauma that was perpetrated on January 6th.
It has become normal to offer thoughts and prayers when gun violence occurs rather than instituting common-sense gun laws and dealing with the underlying reasons people take up weapons of destruction.
Even though I was vaccinated 19 weeks ago (I number the days as if counting the age of a child), I still wear a mask in buildings where others congregate, even if the sign on the door says it is acceptable to go barefaced if vaccinated.
I have lost my faith in humans as a species, even as I trust those who see the world as I do.
I don’t trust that everyone who has doffed their face covering has been vaccinated. That is one of the saddest aspects of this crisis. Until now, I would have proudly proclaimed that I feel safe in the world and that most people could be counted on to keep the well-being of those around them paramount.
It’s what I was taught as a child—that we not only had the responsibility to look after our needs but extend that to others. In our home, we had a crowded table where there was room for people of all cultures, skin tones, and religions.
I grieve my innocence.
I grieve for all those who have lost loved ones to violence. I grieve for all those whose livelihoods were swamped, and they lost businesses.
I grieve for all the children who missed the normalcy of school attendance.
I grieve for all those who are lonely and bereft.
I grieve for all those whose addictions kicked into high gear during the pandemic.
I grieve for all those whose pre-existing anxiety and depression have increased incrementally.
I grieve for those who can’t feed their families sufficiently.
I grieve for those who grieve alone.
I grieve for those who have lost faith.
Please be as kind and compassionate as you can since you may not know the size or seaworthiness of their boat or the height and depths of the water in which they are afloat.
If you or someone you know is grieving, please connect with an online support group.