My son-in-law, Eric the Super Dad, cancer Survivor, started experiencing pain in his right lower abdominal quadrant last week. They live in New York City, you know, so there was much consternation. As the pain steadily worsened over a couple of days, he zoomed into a CityMD and was directed to the hospital…. The Hospital…in New York City. Eric’s cancer had been treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering and some of their Good Friends work there and they could have presented there. However, Melissa’s Crohn’s Disease has been treated at Mt. Sinai and since this was obviously a GI problem, they decided to go there. You’ve no doubt seen scenes of overwhelmed doctors and nurses battling against the virus that has inundated the building
The had to take an Uber through the Belly of the Beast and by the time they got to the entrance, Eric could hardly walk. At the metal detector just inside, Melissa had to leave him. She walked the mile back to their apartment and she and her daughters held each other tight. And she called me. As usual, I was ready to fly to her side. As usual, there would be nothing I could do to help. And as always, I wanted them to Be Here under my wings where I could Protect them, but that is deluded thinking.
Right away Eric was tested for coronavirus. By the time it came back negative, his appendix had burst. Thank-you, Lord, he was where he needed to be. Melissa’s surgeon, the Amazing Dr. Ky from Sesame Street, showed up to take care of Eric and the very angry appendix and he was whisked to surgery. I am so thankful that it was Dr. Ky and I know that it made Eric feel more confident. Last report he would be heading back home soon.
While our media has seemed to emphasize the polarization of our country regarding these stay-at-home orders and seems to delight in scaring us as we watch the California beaches fill up and the Michigan protesters scream their ignorance at healthcare workers, I’d like to point out that in NYC they’re unified, determined to do whatever it takes to win against this formidable foe. Every evening at 7pm the New Yorkers appear at their windows to Clap for the Carers. They Know that these are People, their neighbors and friends and loved ones who are impossible to replace and they’re not going to be sacrificed for any amount of money. Fact is, as a Blue State, even their stimulus checks have been held up, but they’re tough and they’ll make it. Even with their stupid mayor, they look to each other for strength and keep their children closely guarded. I Love You, New Yorkers!
So I’m a little weepy these days. I just give in to it. Looking Directly at my Fears, I can give myself the Compassion that I extend to Others. Hell, yeah, we’re all scared. We spend a lot of time cheering ourselves up, and that’s fine, but don’t be afraid to Feel the Helplessness that is inevitable in a time such as this. My Dad did not tolerate tears and I still feel that childhood conditioning that crying is a sign of weakness. Wrong-o, Dad; Crying is a sign of Humanity. I plead Human.
And the Dreams…ever since we started isolating I have had vivid dreams that involve many dead people: Mom, Dad, my cousin Janice, my ex-husband, and my great-grandmother. There’s almost always a Baby, too. Every one of the dreams ends up with me Lost and running around trying to find my way to someplace that I just can’t find. Once I had run all up and down the streets asking for directions and they were all wrong. Finally I found a couple sleeping in a doorway; the guy looked like Shaggy from Scooby-doo and the gal looked suspiciously like a young Me, wearing a fascinator. They woke up and pointed out that the Door was right behind me. I turned and there it was; I woke up.
In the dream Last night I was trying to drive a sheriff’s car to rescue someone. When I sat in the driver’s seat I couldn’t see out the windshield. I fiddled with the seat controls, squishing myself into the steering wheel and laying the seat back until I finally found the control that lifted me up above the dashboard and I could see through the windshield to drive. I took off and made it back to a room where Casey was sleeping and I crawled into bed to sleep, then woke up.
I’ve wasted so much Time worrying over things that just don’t matter and I’m grateful that I see that now. I’ve tried to live up to some sort of expectation of Life while not seeing what’s right in front of me. I hope this new-found clarity lasts. I pray that All of Us can See over the steering wheel and find our way Home to our Hearts where our Loved Ones are held tight and safe.
Remember, it’s okay to melt down. Know This: You are Not Alone…
from Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim…
We Are All One.