It feels familiar. there is an odd ease in the way i slide right into this darkness and nestle up against all of my worst fears.
I couldn’t possibly number the days and nights i have spent in this place. They equal a life. Two lives. Three lives. They equal the lives of everyone around me. No one is unscathed. The fear affects us all. I wish i could pull open the blinds and let the sun in and make declarations of faith and positivity. I wish i could shower and dress myself and paint a face that says ITS ALL GONNA BE OKAY.
But that’s not what it feels like here. Here feels like a noxious dark tar. Like molasses and mud in the lungs. Like a sticky trap you thought was just a regular sidewalk. But here we are.
In the last two and a half years everyone has experienced some kind of fear and uncertainty about health and money and access to healthcare and a return to some kind of meaningful livelihood. Covid slammed us all against a wall – but for some of us it wasn’t nearly as jarring. For me, i felt less alone. I felt like maybe the whole world would be a safer place for my delicate girl if everyone had a little taste of the fear.
But fear doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t bring people together. It doesn’t stir a collective change. Only love can do that. Is fear bigger than love? Of course not. We fear because we love. But fear is thicker. It’s darker and heavier. And it’s much louder.
Until the pandemic sealed us off i just sort of lived here. I hung my hat on sleepless nights of number watching and fever reducing and vomit cleaning. My days were full of doctors appointments and symptom checking. Every memory i have of joy is also a memory of calculated risk and tense muscles. Did someone just sneeze? Did i overhear someone say it was just a cold? Is Poppy warm? Why is she being so quiet? Is she laughing because something is funny or is she having one of those seizures where a kid just laughs?
The fear gets on everything. I think the light parts – the laughter and living really outweighed the depths but as memory goes – the suffering just stands out. The loneliness of night after night in the dark bathroom with the shower running and the machines whirring and beeping and my fingers literally holding her tongue down out of her airway – it just pops.
And then a pandemic. And a week later giving birth in a new kind of fear. And then hours later my Dad dying. And then just being left a l o n e. For Y E A R S. But also, being healthy.
The last two and a half years have been the calmest and sweetest years of parenting since before Poppy was born. There was no illness. No doctors appointments or surgeries or talking talking talking about all the things inside and outside of her body that are broken. No stares in public or rude comments at the park. No people at all. Poppy thrived. She gained weight for the first time in almost 4 years. She grew a foot. She learned to read and fell in love with books and writing. It was a welcome pause from the hustle and grind. My memories of this time are light and colorful. It seemed too good to be true. Maybe it was. But i was present. I could control the fear for once. I could say no. I could make others wear a mask and stay 6 feet away and only see us outside. I could keep her safe.
Nearly three years i kept it away. And you know how it got to us? One in-home healthcare worker who came to the house so Poppy wouldn’t have to be exposed to germs in a clinic. That’s how it gets in. That’s how we all get Covid.
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