Three weeks ago, travel weary, we returned home from Nicaragua. My head and heart full of vibrant life. My spirit was light. My family was bonded. The world seemed to dazzle, and we were at peace. But as my feet stepped off of that plane onto the tattered grey carpet, almost right away, they started to walk with bigger strides, then at a faster pace, soon after a light jog was needed. That was a Friday. By Monday, I felt in a full sprint, heart rate a little higher, breath a little shallower, and, only today, do I feel, out of necessity, that I’m stopping at a rest station along this marathon’s path.
COVID-19, I hope, will be our great teacher.
Two weeks after it started, I sat at my husband’s desk. I was using his email to log onto my new office system and website to see if it was working after toiling on it for hours. It was late at night. I put my hands in my lap, slumped my shoulders over, and stared forward. I felt a tidal wave of grief. “I don’t want to be in this place in history, I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here.” Tears swelled in my eyes. My husband was up in bed. I felt guilt about how preoccupied I’d been over the two weeks prior. I felt scared to kiss him. My kids were asleep. I had fear about what all this was doing to them; seeing one hundred percent of their parents’ talk be focused on an illness and how to protect their office from it, news running constantly, mom a little manic, dad worried about mom, no friends to be with, no playground, no structure, everything shifted. In that moment, COVID-19 felt like my enemy. An enemy I didn’t want to fight. An enemy that was winning. The weight of defeat was heavy.
The moment was just that though, a moment, and it passed.
From then, the days ticked past. Each day felt a week, each week a month.
COVID-19 and I have a new relationship now.
I’ve gone for early morning runs and watched the multicoloured light rise over the ocean and mountains and I’ve understood that this was necessary. I’ve heard the message being sent. I’ve looked in the eyes of those out there too, in those early hours, and felt connection; every wrinkle around their eyes like a hug around my soul. I’ve sat down, taken a breath, and received from patients as opposed to always feeling the urge to give. I’ve let it happen. Gifts every day. I’ve opened my eyes to what true leadership is; those who have never been humble before, being humbled now, live. I’ve seen my family grow.
I’m not on the frontlines of this. I will not see the death that others will. But the fear that death may come nearer than it has before is now always present.
But now I walk with COVID-19. She is mentor, I am mentee. When at work to protect patients and reinvent primary care delivery, I’ve found a drive and focus that I’ve not seen in years. The synthesis of information, the deciphering of truth, the execution of change, is coming, with more ease. Science, my first love, is back in my life again and I love her anew. When at home with family, I work too, but also witness what my children are truly capable of, I’ve been underestimating them before, I should have known better. Though worry and death and fear roll in and out frequently, love and gratitude and hope always follow them.
I am willing to go through all of this if what I learn, I remember. If what we learn, we remember. Let this time in history save you, let this time in history save us. Look at the morning light, look into each other’s eyes, sit in it, understand what it is you needed to learn and let this illness save you.