Today, Sue sewed masks for us out of one of my cotton 5K T-shirts. It’s another adaptation to the coronavirus lockdown that we could never have envisioned even a month ago.
We plan our outings, calling ahead to the artisanal bakery 20 miles away where we now buy bread and pastries since our own local bakery closed. We drive up, announce our name, take the box and drive away. We go to an indoor farmer’s market to buy milk, eggs, veggies and fruit, timing it when we think there will be the fewest customers.
We went to a rural store to buy seeds, onion sets and lettuce seedlings. It was business as usual despite the social distancing signs on the door. I volunteered as tribute and went inside the close quarters.
Sue managed to buy $52 worth of bacon, steak, salmon, chicken, hot dogs, sausage, ground sirloin and turkey burgers in less than 10 minutes at our local butcher. We are shopping guerillas, planning out our operations to minimize contact with other humans.
On Thursday night we conducted Compline, the end-of-the-day office in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, on Facebook Live. It’s not like we sit around reading the prayer book or even the Bible to each other, but it was an attempt to create community. It’s also a beautiful service.
Collective grief is in the air
After almost a month of trying to treat this like an adventure, on Friday I melted down a bit. My stomach was in knots, and I had an urge to go to bed at 6 p.m. I could not stop crying. Sue read an entire post from Harvard Business Review, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief,” to me. It was an interview with David Kessler, a renowned expert on grief.
“. . . We’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”
One of my issues is feeling guilty about the things that are making me sad, such as the cancellation of our June Canadian tour and the loss of our handbell ensemble’s spring season. I know businesses are wiped out and millions of people are jobless, and parents are stuck at home trying to teach and entertain their kids. So I have no right to be sad that I had finally and proudly, with dogged determination and commitment, earned a position on this group and we were a week away from our first spring performance.
Kessler said: “We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling.”
I am sad about everything. Helpless. Afraid. Angry. Uncertain. Grieving. And yes, I am sad about silent handbells.