Pandemic Got Your Tongue?

NYC #COVID19
NYC #Covid19

There are things you could do without ever experiencing.  Clearly #COVID19 is one of them.

I live in NYC.  I have lived here every one of my 46 years.

I was born and raised here.  I graduated from public school, SUNY and then CUNY.  I work in the elementary school I graduated from.  I have lived in the same zip code pretty much my whole life.

I watched my local community rise up many years ago when my young cousin battled Leukemia.  I remember that, even over 30 years later, whenever a neighbor I don’t know is in need.

I watched my local community, many aspects of which were decimated by the horrors of 9/11, rise up in indescribable ways.

I watched my community draw together again after Hurricane Sandy wiped out neighborhoods.

We worked together.  We prayed together.  We loved on each other.  We gathered together.  We shared what we had.

I live amongst compassion, bravery, dedication, resilience, tragedy, and grief.

I also live amongst some selfishness, stupidity and inflated senses of self importance.

The greatest city in the world gives you all that and then some.

Despite having a small social circle, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin and a friend.

I am a patient with a PTEN mutation called Cowden’s Syndrome.

I am a cancer survivor.

I have a teenager with 2 rare diseases, and a brain that runs 24/7.

We are immune compromised.

I am a NYC Public School Teacher.

My husband is an essential worker.

Daily the news reports are often silenced in my house.  I know what’s going on around me.  A few numbers across a screen give me what I already know.  Hope of blossoming spring has been muted by tales that nightmares are made of.

I spend the days trying to remotely engage young minds in math games.  It is, if nothing else, a welcome distraction.

Suddenly, this community that does so much better when we can gather together is isolated.

Our friends are sick and dying quickly.  To much of the country and the world they are numbers.  To us they are humans with names and families.  We can not visit.  We can not comfort.  We can not gather.  We are leaving our loved ones at the emergency room door, praying we will see them again.

We, alongside the whole world, are fighting a virus that seems to have a strangle hold on my home town.

People like to make themselves feel better, but the truth is this virus does not discriminate.  We can barely even find it, let alone attack it.

We are chasing it.  It clearly has the upper hand.

We have been told to #flattenthecurve but, I fear the sheer numbers of us make this so much harder.

My husband comes from work removes all layers, scrubs, showers, washes all outer garments.  He gave up public transportation to reduce his “touch points.”

We are grateful for the home we have.  We are grateful for each other, for the internet, for Zoom and FaceTime, and virtual church.  We are grateful for washing machines and space, and luxuries never to be taken for granted again.

We are grateful for computers that allow for everything from Advanced Biology to voice lessons and test prep.

We leave for 2 walks a day at off peak hours.

The stores I used to walk in and out of because I could, are saved for when lists accumulate and there is need.

We order food a few times a week, a calculated risk carefully played out because the restaurants that have openly supported our fundraisers through the years, deserve our support now as well.

The schedule has slowed from its chaotic pace.  Swim season just isn’t.  There is no college search right now.  Doctors are cancelling, and rescheduling.  Routine check ups are on hold.  And honestly I don’t mind.  Even this chronically painful foot is waiting its turn while really important things happen at the local hospitals.

We take this call to social isolation really seriously here.

Selfishly, I might even enjoy a little of this forced family time.  A year from now my girl will likely have her college chosen and be starting her transition out of our nest.

Having Cowden’s Syndrome has done a lot of work on my perspective through the years.  I’ve learned that you can’t keep waiting for it to be over.  That’s true of everything in life.

A dear friend has told me often, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”

You have to live each day, from beautiful to unspeakable.  It is the only way to preserve feelings of compassion, empathy and focus on the greater good.  You must laugh and cry, and scream and yell, and feel all the feelings.

I have scanned 3 and a half years of letters Pop wrote to Grandma in the years he was deployed during WWII.  Those years preceded a marriage that lasted over 70 years.  I think of them all the time, but even extra these days.  I think about how hard it would have been to socially distance from them, but also about the lessons they could have taught all of us in patience, resilience and sacrifice for the greater good.

I’ll use some of the next days to read every one of those letters before uploading them to create a hard copy to be shared in my family for generations.

There is a lot to be learned from the “Greatest Generation.”

Sometimes I get angry at flippant or arrogant folks I see, in person or on the news.  The people who think they are too good, or exempt from this global pandemic.  The people who don’t think they have to do their part.

Then, I decide to focus on the overwhelming number of people who are doing whatever they can to make this better.  All those essential workers we learned about in the first grade unit on “Community Helpers” are the ones I focus on with gratitude.

I am not better than this virus.  I am just as susceptible as the good people across the globe who are struggling with these infections.

I isolate not out of fear, but out of respect.

I isolate out of respect for those who can’t.

I isolate out of respect for our first responders and essential workers.

I isolate out of respect for those who are living with this virus.

I isolate because maybe one less person will get infected because I did.

I miss the way our city has come together in all other times of tragedy.

I miss hugs, and offering comfort and being comforted.

I will message the people I miss so much, and check in on them.

And, instead of complaining the time away I will spend more of it in prayer for those who need very much not to feel alone, reaching out through the technology I’m blessed to have, with gratitude that if I am forced to isolate I have a comfortable home and a few of my best friends to be with.

Jax is a welcome distraction.
Sweet April

#Family

#Flattenthecurve

#COVID19

Still #Beatingcowdens

 

 

 

Listening while distracted

You know the rules and the laws on driving while distracted.  Hands free cell phone devices, watch the road.. etc. etc.

distracted_driving

But, what about listening while distracted?

The sermon in church focused on this last week, and honestly, 8 days later it is still on my mind.  A personal challenge to me is to stop listening while distracted.

This is not an easy task.   There are precious few people brave enough to venture inside my mind.  It is quite a mess.  Once you sort through all the noise, its hard to find focus.

The list of thoughts on any given day could include, but are not limited to…

What appointment to we have today?  How many?  What will the wait time be?  When is the next one?

Will we get bad news, or just a 6 month return ticket?

How is Meghan feeling, what is her pain like?

Why does she hurt so badly, and how come no one can figure it out?

Will she feel well enough to participate in her after school activity?

How do we balance school with life?  How do we get all the homework and projects done amidst her chronic health issues?

What about her IEP?

Do we keep the para next year?  Do I need an advocate to help me?  Have any of these people got any CLUE about Cowden’s?

What about the bills?  I know we CAN pay them, but there are quite a few.  How many phone calls do I need to make to be sure that they are all done right?  When will I make the phone calls?

How much will the heat cost this cycle?

Will we need a new roof this year?Can't stop thinking cartoon

Did I update the EZPass account fo the new car after the accident?

What groceries do we need and WHEN do I have to go?

How are Grandma and Pop?  Really?

Will the article for Rare Disease Day represent us?  What about the ribbons?  Will they be distributed properly?  Will the kids – and adults benefit from it?  What if Meghan has to speak at her school?  Will she know what to say?

Why is there so much homeowork all the time?

How am I going to finish this math series with her while studying for Social Studies?

Does any of that TRULY matter for 6th grade, or will they just realize I have a pretty smart kid?

When is the FUN supposed to start?

…. AND I COULD GO ON AND ON AND ON AND ON…

cartoon-kids-music

So, with that many thoughts running through my head (and sometimes more,) how can I ever be an active listener to ANYONE?

Meghan and I are best buddies.  She is a great kid.  But we do butt heads sometimes. 

I have to wonder if its because inside that 75 pound 4 foot 10 body, she also is listening while distracted.

Tonight we will stop. 

We will focus.

We will look at each other.

We will listen carefully.

Maybe we will actually hear each other if we eliminate some distractions.

Her father is very good at clearing his mind – eliminating distractions.  Meghan and I – not so much. 

But how can I hear what anyone is saying if I don’t LISTEN?

I see it all the time in this technology age.  Parents on cell phones, ignoring their kids.  Kids pleading for attention, and to be heard.

I am no better if I let the distractions of my mind get in the way of my conversations with my family.

When I ask God to listen, He does.  When I listen carefully, He speaks.  This I know.

Life is way too short to miss out on what is right in front of me.

I am working on clearing my head and avoiding “Listening while distracted.”