Since Jorge and I began our voluntary isolation, I have done my best to be cheerful, keep busy, stay organised, and not to think too much about all the ramifications of the COVID 19 pandemic. But yesterday I felt like a bird with no branch to land on, and let myself feel the worry, fear and helplessness. Completely overwhelmed by all the unknown challenges that are surely waiting for us, I went into my room, closed the door and had a long cry.
Each tear drop was huge, and they absolutely poured from my eyes. Using the sleeve of my shirt, I tried to wipe them off my cheeks, but my nose was running too, and the saliva that had collected under my tongue also mixed into the mess on my face. I felt like all my vital fluids would soon be gone and I would just dry up.
But I didn’t care. I kept sobbing. Moans and laments came from a deep, sodden place and they made me gasp. I didn’t know I could produce such an awful, sorry sound.
And then the unhappy memories came flooding to my mind and got all bunched up with my current state of utter collapse. Sad events, slights, disappointments, betrayals, broken promises, unfulfilled expectations… losses of every kind… filed their way through my consciousness. Like a grim slideshow.
You are a mess, I said to the person in the mirror.
I have a right to be, she answered.
And as I sat there, all hunched over on the edge of my bed, I heard a pair of sensible shoes tip-toeing onto the scene. Those are nurse’s shoes, thought I. And a soft, strong voice asked me, Do you think maybe you should wash your face?
And of course I did that.
My mother was always at her best when everyone else was falling apart, and as I dabbed warm water over my swollen eyes, I remembered, Now I am the mother and I need to do what she did; I need to be at my best right now.
I decided the square of terry towel was not doing its job, and I turned on the shower full blast. Afterwards, I curled my hair, applied light makeup; I put on a dress and shoes, not flip-flops. I was about to leave my sanctuary but turned back for my pearls and two dabs of Channel’s “Chance”. There, I felt a lot better.
I found Jorge … sitting on the front porch of the house where we’ve lived since1976. Our chairs are old; as we rock them back and forth, they groan or they chirp, depending on the humidity. Mine has a cane back, and like the chair from “Goldilocks and the three Bears”, it is just right. Jorge’s has a back with curved slats, and he says it never fails to soothe the worry out of his back.
“We’ve spent many a Saturday night just like this,” said Jorge, in the most contented voice imaginable. I nodded and I felt so grateful to be beside this man. Despite the chaos around us, he always finds a simple pleasure to use as a cornerstone. Oh he can obsess and fall to pieces too… make no mistake about that… but NEVER when he can see my fragility.
The arrival of the COVID 19 virus into our world has forced us into tough times. I believe it is OK to let the tears flow, to curse at the moon or whatever object (not person) is nearest.
And when the fear has been purged by the tears (for a while anyways) we need to remember…
When the going is tough, the tough get going.