It's the End of the World as I Know It


And I don't feel fine. I have had "end of the world as I know it" events in the past and even though they were painful, I felt fine through the process. Well, fine might be a simple way of putting how I felt. I felt at peace knowing it would all work out.

Grandparents dying...I was deeply sad with each loss and felt like I was on shaky ground. I didn't like returning to Illinois for several visits after each grandparent was gone, but I got through each visit with a few less tears and more smiles at memories. I found my normal again fairly quickly and it was pretty much the same normal. My grandparents were no longer physically present, but I could feel their presence and that felt good.

Grandparents die. It's sad and it's our first introduction to grief for most of us. It's logical. It's linear. It makes sense.

9/11...I roamed my world in shock and fear for several days. Once several days had passed, I was fairly certain there were no more planes being used as weapons. Eventually I boarded a plane again and I did fine even with the extra apprehension. I grieved the lives lost. I questioned the safety of my city. I debated solutions with my friends. 9/11 changed how I fundamentally look at the world, but it really didn't change how I navigate my world except for security checks and passports. My final grief happened at the World Trade Center sight several years after the fact. I wept. I sat for over an hour in the memorial chapel. I soaked in the energy of that place.

Tragedies and horrific world events happen. World leaders and governments take charge leading us through it with reassurance and direction. The resolution is logical and linear and for the most part makes sense.

Losing my uncle Jeff, who was like a dad to me, to cancer...It was the most world-altering experience I have ever gone through. Watching him suffer while holding his hand. Sitting in the ICU quietly for hours hoping my presence was enough for him as I felt so powerless to soothe him. Seizing last moments of joy and celebration knowing deep within they would be the last. Telling him good-bye for the last time in person. Telling him it was okay to go to the other realm over the phone only a few days later. It sucked. It sunk me into the deepest grief I have ever known. It changed the very essence of who I am and how I move about the world. YET...

Cancer happens. It's a reality most of us are touched by in our own bodies or in our loved ones' bodies at some point in our lifetimes. Even though it's about the most awful experience in the human experience, it still is logical and linear on some level. It even makes sense on some level because we know what cancer is and we have a good idea how to treat it.

This! This virus that has been given multiple name changes and has invaded every continent except Antarctica...THIS MAKES ZERO SENSE!!! What makes this so completely awful and sends me into waves of emotion some days moment to moment is the sheer unpredictability of it all. There is no logic here.

We thought is spread through surfaces, so we disinfected everything. Then we discovered it spreads through the air, so we stayed home and social distanced. Then we discovered it spreads, well, it just spreads so we really don't know how to insure we don't get exposed.

And, who dies from it? First, it was just the elderly. Then the vulnerable. Then a 22-year-old nursing assistant with zero health problems. Again, zero logic. Total uncertainty.

I don't like the world this virus has created.

I don't like jumping into the street to avoid a fellow walker on the sidewalk.

I don't like sending face masks to my cousin so he feels safe at his grocery store job.

I don't like suiting up in gloves and face mask to get my groceries.

I don't like the extensive decontamination process when I leave a grocery store.

I don't like seeing my fellow humans as biological weapons.

That's the bottom line that makes me burst into tears some days and stay in bed other days and watch hours of Netflix with popcorn other days...I DON'T LIKE A WORLD THAT SEES OUR FELLOW HUMANS AS BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS!!!

It grieves me. It makes me question everything. It makes me doubt humanity.

And, then, I see another human smile through their face mask or hear them joke as we both hop to the far edges of a sidewalk or we join a birthday parade for our neighbor or the delivery driver wishes me a safe and happy night...

That's when I feel hope. I feel like we might make it. I feel like possibly it isn't the end of the world as we know it. Maybe it's the beginning of a much brighter world full of kindness and cooperation and love and joy and peace. Maybe we needed this intense, earth-shattering take down in order to rise into our greatness. Maybe we needed this collective experience to remind us we are all human and we all have the choice to be the light or extinguish the light.

I am going to keep working through the emotions and shining my light through the tears.

May you be well.

May you be peaceful.

May you be love and loved.

Because, really, at the core of all of this, ALL IS WELL.

All is well because it is working out. It's painful and it's confusing as hell and it's not logical, but underneath it all human generosity, love, and kindness are working quietly and insistently. All is well because humanity always finds a way when we recognize and meet each other in our common human experience.

P.S. As I wrote this, a storm came crashing through. It quieted and then while bright sunshine poured in my window, rain started dumping. The photo is the scene out my window. It reminds me all is well because downpours in the sunshine happen which means kindness will break through a pandemic and we will be more well in body and spirit than ever before.

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Photography provided by the amazing talent of Tammy Brice