Look for the Silver Lining

My mother, who passed away in February 2000, always taught me to look for the silver lining in any event. Her death itself was a test of this, as I received an adoption referral and photo of my first child just a month after she passed away from ovarian cancer. She had come so close to seeing the face of her first granddaughter, it broke my heart. And only three months more and she would have met her. But I couldn’t throw aside my joy for my daughter because of my grief over my mother. I had to mourn and rejoice concurrently. It was an odd time.

And now here we all are, in the worst crisis I have ever seen in my 50-plus years. I am afraid. I am afraid for my father, who is 83 and in fairly good health but hey, he’s 83. I am afraid for me, with my asthma and my oh-so-close-to-60 age. I am afraid for my husband and my children, not because they have any risk factors, but because I am a wife and a mother, and my main job for the last 20 years has been worrying about how to keep my family safe.

I hate the anxiety of not knowing if one of us will come down with the breath-stealing version of this virus. I hate the anxiety of not knowing if this will end in two months, six months, or eighteen. I don’t like uncertainty and that, in and of itself, makes me anxious. But I can’t think about that all the time. I desperately need some peace of mind, if only for a few minutes here, a few minutes there. So I cling to the laughs we have over dinner; to the simple joy of family walks in the hopeful light of the spring sunshine (distancing from neighbors, of course!); to reading until midnight; to weekly zoom talks with friends I am “seeing” more now than I did before, thanks to our cleared calendars. I even take a few moments to appreciate the cat I am fostering who should have been adopted by now but who is, for the foreseeable future, part of our chaotic, too-many-pet household. Even as when she shredded a stack of napkins (thank goodness it wasn't toilet paper!), I laughed through my exasperation.

And that is how you survive these weeks of worry and unrest.

You put one foot in front of the other.

You wake up each morning.

You find the joy in the moments between the worry.

You find the silver lining.

We are not the first generation to suffer major upheaval. I keep thinking of the World War II generation, of what they suffered, what they lost. They also had events postponed and canceled. Milestones that were marked with letters rather than dinners and parties. I think of their food rationing. Of the futures forfeited. Of lives redirected. Of loved ones lost.

We are not the first. We are not the last. We can do this. Grasp the silver living, whatever it is. More time spent with loved ones. More time cleaning out closets and junk drawers. More time not spent running on the tread mill of 21st century life. Our days have been boiled down to the essentials. Some gifts come wrapped in shrouds. It is up to us to appreciate what gifts are thrown our way. We are living life right now. This day. This moment. Make it count. Find a laugh, a light, a flower blooming. Take a small thing and appreciate the hell out of it.

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