Yesterday I had a long phone conversation with my son. He is in Vietnam and he can’t leave. I worry about him for obvious reasons. After that phone call, I hung up with a different perspective from before the call began. Like the rest of us, Kyle has good days and not so good days. But he could tell by my voice that I wasn’t having a particularly good day. And just like that, our roles reversed. He was reassuring me. Telling me it’s going to be ok even though he has spent months telling me it isn’t, well not for his generation that is. He questioned me until he found a morsel, a nugget, of hope. The hope he found was in the information that the seed company I love and use, FEDCO Seeds, has had a banner year. It appears that this pandemic has people reverting to the most radical action we can do, growing our own food. “Well that’s something,” he said. “Focus on that, on the good being done by regular folks in your community.” I was shocked. My son, the political genius who usually rattles off geopolitical history that would make anyone’s head spin was suggesting I put my attention to my community. He was telling me to grow my garden, help with the mask making effort. “Grow your food again, ma. You’ve been doing it since before I was born. Go back.” So today I planted peas. And for the first time in my life it felt like the radical act it is.
While sitting outside drinking coffee I found myself thinking about the women I know and how amazed I am at their strength, resiliency, and determination to do all they can to make this somehow a little bit better. I wondered about myself and was saddened by my own inability to break the inertia of isolation blues. I wondered if the outside evils had finally won. It’s been a month and a half of this isolation and I can’t seem to navigate a path. I thought I’d be brave. I thought I’d be strong. I thought I could handle anything. Now I’m wondering if I was wrong. This has been such an unexpected punch in the gut and it appears to have won round one. But as round two begins, the realization that this is going to be our life for a long while, I realize I need to figure something else out. But first there is something that needs to be dealt with.
Grief. It has become clear to me that what is causing this struggle is grief. And I have learned that grief is not something to hurry up, skip over, brush away, pretend it’s not there. It’s real and has its own timeline. There are those pesky stages that anyone who suffers loss goes through. We don’t make it to our 60’s without substantial loss at some point in our lives. If we do we are incredibly blessed. So I recognize grief. That debilitating paralysis. But I know it doesn’t last forever. I also know it takes work to get out of it. And to be honest it felt good to put a name to the something that has been so consuming. It’s always nice to know you’re not just being a deadbeat loser.
So for anyone else out there feeling similar feelings. I think we’re going to be OK. There isn’t a nifty little book that tells us how to deal with a freaking pandemic. We’re creating the map on this one. There will be ups and downs and that’s ok. Some days we may get good things done. Celebrate those days. Some days we will not get a darn thing worth anything done. That’s OK too. It really is. We need to be gentle with ourselves and give ourselves permission to not be 100%. Maybe, just maybe, that will help us be a little gentler and kinder to others. And gosh knows we need that.
So, to the radical gardeners, mask makers, health care workers, grocery clerks, fast food workers, delivery drivers, farmers, seed packers, teachers, and neighbors who check in with each other…we can do this. We have to do this; we really don’t have a choice. This exact same thing, pandemic, happened almost exactly 100 years ago. And just like they made it through, we will make it through again. We will certainly grieve for those we lose. And because of that we will be changed. We must make every effort to make sure that we change for the better. May we be kinder, and may we recognize and care for those who are less fortunate. They are so incredibly visible today. Let us not look away. Let us always see and work to make life just a little more fair. A little more equitable. A little more compassionate.
Stay safe; be well, and love each other,
One thought on “Today I Planted Peas”
You are not alone. I find each day to be harder, my thoughts weirder, and my fear and dread stronger. I find the memes about bleach not amusing, the last briefings making me certain that democracy is over and we are now in the throes of a wild dictator, and where it leads is not good. I am terrified of my little grocery, and not sure how to go forward while teaching at my kitchen table without the skills or desires to get the skills to be creative in zoom. I fear for my spouse’s health, my kids and sometimes walk in circles. But I do have peas. The snow is gone so since I believe that gardening is a fundamentally revolutionary act, I will go out there and dig.