What Will I Learn?

As we begin WEEK SEVEN (yep, yelling that fact) of sheltering in place, I’m now at the point of wondering if and when things will ever seem normal again. But then again, what is normal anyway?

I’m missing a random assortment of ‘my’ normal things – a quick run into the grocery store for the one or two items I need, full grocery store shelves that bring a sense of comfort that I never realized I needed, getting up each morning with a sense of purpose knowing I had a job to do…and I miss my people. I miss coffee dates and lunch dates and dinner dates and haircuts and pedicures and church.

I’ve always been a homemaker at heart and the thing that comes the most natural to me is planning, prepping and feeding the people I love in our little house on our little street. Garden parties, dinner parties, concerts…my life was full and busy and my eyes were always ready to focus on the next thing on my list.

We have taken this whole isolating thing seriously and have been home. But now after six weeks of very few trips out and seeing only a select few from a distance, I’m seeing a whole other side to myself. And it bothers me. I’m realizing how much I had begun to take people for granted.

How many people did I ever really ‘see’ anyway? The same lady has helped me at the dry cleaners every week for years and years. I don’t know her name. At the market, I see the same checkers each week. I don’t know their names unless I see their name tags. The dog groomer? I know her name, but nothing else about her. The man at the 7-11 where I get my early morning coffee a few times a week (more my speed than fancy coffee and way more creamer choices)…don’t know his name. The window washers, my cleaning lady, the exterminator – all pre-covid essential services in our small life who I write checks to and smile and greet….nothing. I know nothing about them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a friendly by nature kind of person. I talk to people pretty much every day. I like people. But it’s not the same as taking that extra step…and I am ashamed that I haven’t.

There’s a story in the book of Esther that talks of a choice that needs to be made – a choice between life and death for a group of people Queen Esther loves. When she hesitates for a brief moment, someone who loves her points out that perhaps this is the moment she was born for – that this is why she was put here on earth.

I’m realizing after being sheltered at home, after being furloughed from my job, after being separated from first two and now one of my boys, that I need to take something positive with me out of this whole mess. Sure, I’ve learned a few new recipes. I’ve read some great books, had time to clean the baseboards, washed every item in the linen closet (twice, sigh), spent time on zoom with family and friends, enjoyed the blooming garden…but there has to be more. More than the negative and the fear and the anger coming out of this will look like. And I think for me, it’s become clear.

I don’t know what it will look like and I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I need to see people. Really see people. I’ve seen how much a mask blocks out and how much is lost standing six feet apart. And while I know the rush of real life will someday return, I can’t forget to make something positive come from all of this…whatever that new normal looks like.

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Wife to one, Mom to three, striving daily to live a simple life in a complicated world.