A friend recently admitted feeling guilty that she wasn’t writing during what is, for her, a sudden slow time. I could relate.
The second week my husband was in the hospital, after they closed the hospital to visitors and implemented social distancing across the country, I thought I might use the suddenly empty days to tidy my office, you know, the one that looks like a bomb went off in it.
But there’s this thing behind my ears. Silent, distracting, like a computer program hogging all the RAM. I can’t see it or hear it, but it’s there, draining my focus. I’d wager many of you feel it too.
Instead of sorting stacks of paper, I moved my laptop into the living room and surfed social media, waiting for his calls and texts. I went into my office to get my sunglasses so I could walk the pupperina, closed the door, and barely opened it for seven days.
I shared this with my friend and told her I refused to feel guilty for not learning a new language or writing a book during this time. Guilt serves no one.
Instead of trying to write, I’m gathering the sensory details I will forget when I once again have the energy to write. The green rubber gloves with the little nibs on the fingers which, now that Ed is home, I wear to apply Lidocaine cream to his aching back. The whir of the nutrition pump and the slightly sickening vanilla protein shake smell of the liquid food. Stuffed bears or bear cutouts in some of the neighbors’ windows, including our own, so the children can go on a “bear hunt.” Feeling surprised at how much I miss hugs.
I admire people who can work under these conditions and worship the medical professionals and other essential workers out on the front lines. I urge everyone else to just keep their kids alive and try not to scream at that zoom call coworker who turns off his video, but fails to mute his microphone so the entire team hears his toilet flush.
We are all doing our best.
And now, repeat after me:
Wash your hands.
Don’t touch your face.
Set the guilt aside and do your part to save someone’s life.