Real Life Intrudes

I’ve been trying to put my thoughts into words and failing miserably. Like many people, I have been living a breath away from an ugly cry for the last several weeks. Writing has been almost non-existent other than finishing on-line coursework for my degree, which came slowly and painfully but is now finished. Neither my son nor I will be able to walk in our respective graduations.

At the end of January, my coworkers at the cancer clinic and I discovered unexpectedly our clinic will close in mid-May. Our “dream team” is being broken up, and we were already mourning the impending loss of each other and some of the patients we serve before the nasty virus reared its head. As new best-practices come to light literally each day from the CDC, we are changing the way we do things, what we wear and when we wear PPE in order to conserve it and still protect our patients and ourselves.

I’m a nurse in the midst of a pandemic. I have a high-risk patient population with suppressed immune systems due to chemotherapy. I am by no means on the front line of things like I was when I worked in the hospital, but my heart aches for my fellow nurses and the physicians who work in the ER and ICUs and on the patient care floors.

Especially in New York, I cannot imagine what my peers are going through. Each time I see a parent who can’t hug their child until this is over for fear of passing on the virus, or a health care provider who has succumbed to the illness they selflessly waged war against, my spirits sink a little more.

I drove to the grocery store today to get things for my mother and noticed spring has seemingly appeared out of nowhere. White blossoms and tiny green leaves are emerging on tree branches, and my forsythia is a yellow riot against the newly green grass.

When did that happen?

For the last few weeks I’ve just been driving to work and back, mentally and emotionally exhausted, without really seeing anything. The gray landscape in my head colored my world, but today’s colors and sunlight broke through the fog and gave me hope.

So much love and beauty has emerged during this crisis. Videos of neighbors singing together on the balconies of Italian apartment complexes during quarantine. The newly crystal-clear canals of Venice. Children playing music for the world. Patrick Stewart reading daily sonnets. People sewing thousands of masks for health care workers. My forsythia, golden and sunny and brilliant.

These are the things I’m going to cling to during the next couple of months to get me through.

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