Editor’s note: DC Service Corps volunteer Megan reflects on these uncertain, vulnerable times through her own experiences quarantined in New York.
These past few weeks have not been easy. Lately, the weight of the world feels so heavy that at any moment I feel as though my legs will snap like twigs and I won’t be able to stand back up again. And if I were to fall, I’m not so sure I’d want to get up again. The ground is sturdy unlike everything else right now that feels as uncertain as the tides. But, I can’t just lay down until this uncertainty rolls over me like a heavy fog. We have to keep going. Maybe because it is what we were born to do and maybe because we have no choice in the matter. Time shows no mercy and the sun still sets regardless of society’s well-being. With each new step I make, I’m unsure of how I got there and I wonder how others are moving when their worlds might be much heavier than my own. I wish I could be there to help lift your burdens.
My heart feels so heavy. Each night, my parents return home from work with new horror stories of patients they’ve encountered throughout their days. Patients of all ages being put on “comfort care” until they meet their final day because their lungs cannot withstand the infection any longer. I repeat the words “comfort care” in my head a few times. They exist nicely next to one another, but what comfort or care can exist in a hospital room where one must die alone? I weep for my fellow brothers and sisters. And I feel so angry sometimes. Angry at myself for not being able to do more and maybe even a little angry at God when I can’t fully understand why this is happening. I wish I could be there to hold their hands, or speak their names as they go. I do not know you, but you are a part of me.
For the first time in my life I don’t feel safe anywhere I go, even my own home. Since returning to Long Island in March to work remotely during quarantine, Coronavirus cases have spiked, and the epicenter has been shifting closer to home. My parents are both healthcare workers, so it is their duty to help those in need regardless of the situation at hand. I wish to hug my parents when they return home, but I can’t. I can only watch from afar as they try to hide their exhaustion and speak of hope for the sake of me and my sister. They are so strong. I want them to know that it is okay to break sometimes.
Last week, I found myself trying to catch my breath in the cereal aisle at the grocery store when people in masks began to clutter. I ran out of there as fast as I could and wondered if things would ever be the same again.
About two weeks ago, I had a conversation with the owner of the local liquor store near my house. Through the plexiglass wall between us he asked how I was holding up, and I told him, jokingly, that wine helps. I asked him the same question to which he responded with a gentle smile that he misses being around people. I agreed and thought about how I have been taking the company of others for granted for so long. I love spending time with my friends and family, but I secretly looked forward to being alone once the day had ended. Frustrations from crowded hallways, streets and subways once flooded my mind. I never bothered to introduce myself to the kind lady that I passed each morning on my way to work because there was always going to be a next time–or so I thought. Now, I would give anything to be back in those places amongst faces I may never see again. I would give anything to be back with friends laughing at our most embarrassing moments together. I would give anything for us all to feel okay and safe again.
I want you to know that there has been light in the darkness through it all as well, and I am reminded of how hope cannot exist without uncertainty, nor faith without despair, nor laughter without sorrow. These are the things I try to keep in mind each new day. This quote helps too:
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” ― Victor Hugo
I pray we come out of this pandemic more kind, patient, connected, and compassionate with one another. I pray God’s love burns brightly in your heart even on your darkest of days, and I pray you awaken each morning with the knowledge that you are loved and are never alone. And maybe soon, once this is all over, we will smell the flowers together again.
Reflection: What do your dark hours show you and where have you found God in them? What changes do you hope for once quarantine ends?