To say that we are in unprecedented times seems may seem like a cliché, but it is quite accurate. We are living with daily trauma. All of us. We can pretend that everything is okay when we rip off our masks and exhale, but it is not. We are not okay. We are grieving in the midst of trying to maintain some figment of normalcy since March. The other morning, memory photos popped up and I was at the fair with my husband, eating cotton candy, buying high thread count Egyptian sheets, test driving the latest models and screaming on rides. Now I just scream. Silently of course. But aren’t we all? There is so much going on. Parents face the agonizing decision on whether to send their children to school, while some have no choice at all. Healthcare workers face grueling hours as they contemplate their own safety. Younger students try to learn remotely and teachers are trying to teach them all as they too worry about their safety and their own children as well. It is imperative that we attempt to find some sense of peace and direction during this pandemic. For me, I write, meditate, pray; but for you it may be something totally different. Just make sure it is something. The water brings me peace and calm, a sense of serenity and hope can be gained from pausing to observe the awe of nature.

It may be time to try something new. For me, that’s forcing myself to open up to others. I discovered I gain a sense of energy by just conversing with someone. It is good to talk, let it all out. And it is a lot that we are all going through. Everyone needs to talk to someone, to exhale. This has been the most trying year of my life. Losing my sister, managing a child with epilepsy, discovering my own health challenges. There has also been transitioning to a new job and relocating. It has been a lot. I try to find time to center myself and refocus. There is always someone who is going through far more than me. That does not reduce my trials, it just allows me to be more cognizant. There are unexpected blessings that have come out of all of this. My daughter now has a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. A child brings so much light to life. And I always knew the value of counseling and grief counseling has provided relief during these trying times. There are so many virtual counseling options out there if help is needed. Most importantly, I feel so much closer to my family. We have had some ups and downs over the last- how many months has it been? We are stronger than ever. Like many families we have been forced- I mean given the opportunity to spend a substantial amount of time together. These moments are irreplaceable. We have done things that the busyness of life caused us to forget about- 1000-piece puzzles, charades, pick up sticks, Uno, and Apples to Apples have all provided entertainment. During March, I even looked out my side door and discovered a backyard. We sat outside and laughed. I stretched out on a blanket and read and wrote. These have been some of the best of times but we all know that winter is coming. This virus will bring more pain and I wish would never lose another single soul, but we will. There will be more hard days. We have to remember to take care of ourselves on those days. As the flight attendant always says, put on your own oxygen mask first. That is the first step.

T.R.Y. Life learner, mother, daughter, poet, teacher, rights crusader. Always on a mission.