There’s so much uncertainty in the world right now. And there’s so much loneliness. In the global pandemic, we scramble to work and to parent in an ever shifting landscape. Stores and schools are open, then closed but then open again. There are few clear right answers. We calculate the risks of daily activities, such as buying groceries or taking a walk with a friend. What really matters? What can’t we live without?
When Tris first died, in August 2018, it felt like the end of the world. But it was really just the end of our world. Colleagues and friends went about their days, consumed with their deadlines and diets and things that, to me, felt unimportant. I just tried to breathe, to be, to take one step at a time.
Then in March 2020, the pandemic hit. For many more people, it felt like the end of the world. The virus was spreading. There were shutdowns. We were urged to stay home to “flatten the curve.” If we did go out, we were urged to wear masks, wash our hands, and keep our distance. Our relationships became strained by distance or by constancy. Those who lived alone had few genuine social interactions. Those who lived with others felt trapped by the constant closeness. Conflict erupted when people in shared households made different calculations of risk— why are YOU risking MY well-being? Relationships were sorted into hierarchies – who can we live without seeing? Who can’t we live without?
In a way, the pandemic world feels less lonely. Almost everyone is navigating loss. We’re all grieving. We’re all finding out that we can survive without seeing our loved ones, even though such a life feels less full, less meaningful. We’re all facing a new normal and an uncertain future. All we can do is try to be, to breathe, and to take one step at a time.