Grieving Our Normal

It’s early April and I am in mourning.

In the face of a global pandemic I feel foolish, when so many have lost so much more, but still I am in mourning.

I am grieving the loss of birthdays and holidays and milestones. I have wasted tears on road trips and family visits.

I take some solace in the fact that you’re too young to remember– these are just memories I’ll be missing. In ten years I hope we can laugh about how the temporary-apocalypse robbed us of your first birthday party.

But right now, my heart hurts. The world feels scary and foreign, the “normal” we’d just started to establish is slipping through my fingers and I am afraid.

I try to keep busy with hobbies and projects to stop my mind from drifting into dark waters. Already prone to melancholy and melodrama, I am fighting a losing battle against anxiety and depression. When I’m not sewing or painting or baking, a panic starts to set in. Feelings that I’ve buried since puberty have nowhere else to go and I feel like I’m drowning, with an endless expanse of terrifying “what ifs” laid out before me.

Today has been slow. I am tired, I can’t focus on empty distractions. You don’t want to nap, so I decide we both need some fresh air and I strap you to my chest and set off on a walk.

Within fifteen minutes you are asleep, your cheek squished against the pillow of my breast. A binky dangles precariously from your parted lips, your hands tucked into my jacket.

We don’t need a white noise machine for this nap, the wind rushes by loudly enough. I get tired of walking in circles and find a mossy spot to stand and sway, watching the lake ripple lazily along. The clouds are low today and it’s gloomy, but birds still chirp. They don’t know the tragedy of the human world, they just know that it’s springtime.

I hear cars drive by on the highway. Children scream and laugh in their yards, enjoying this break from school. The neighbor is pregnant, due any day now with her first girl after three boys. My aunt’s azaleas are starting to bud and the air smells like springtime, like fresh grass and flowers and mud. Your chest rises and falls against me but otherwise, you are still.

I am in mourning, I am in a panic, but from the backyard I can see that the world is still turning and I feel at peace. In the grand scheme of things, life will prevail. Where my infinitesimal existence is a series of terrifying “what ifs”, the Earth has her own answers. There is a wisdom to the universe that I clearly just don’t understand. And maybe, in the end, things will be okay.