I haven't been able to write for months now. Like you, I didn't see 2020 going quite like this. It's been the best of times; It's been the worst of times. A year that started as a memorable trip to my patriarchal homeland has become a time when it's felt like life has even tried to tear my own family apart.
A tale of two lives, two cities, two months.
By the end of February, I began to see this beloved city that I had spent 13 years away from fall apart in so many ways. Like the wars I've only heard about, the Novel Coronavirus came and flipped everything I've known and loved upside-down. But unlike a war, there is no visible enemy; no one to retaliate against; no human with whom to plead for mercy. Reprieve has only been temporary; pain has come in waves from unexpected directions. Experts have been warning us about this for years, yet we've been woefully underprepared for a country that boasts itself on how great we are and how great we'll always be.
I wish I wasn't being histrionic, but prayer has been my only option. Selah.
It's easy for anyone who is not directly connected to the impact of the disease to distance themselves from its grave reality; that was my privilege also -- up until March 15th. But as the stay-at-home began, I've been thrust into an alternate-reality of sorts. Life in NYC has been suspended into the clouds above where people are just dropping out of the sky like rain; the rest of us still misty gray clouds, unable to reach out and save them from the harsh ground. Death and all its friends have been more than dark clouds passing over our doors, but uninvited dinner guests now overstaying their welcome.
Initially, I was able to maintain life as usual, helping others wherever I could, keeping busy, and turning to my normal coping mechanisms that I've built over the last 2 years since, as Brené Brown calls it, my own "Spiritual Awakening." But as people began to get very sick all around me, the feelings of survivors remorse began to resurface and overwhelm me. That very first week, I tried to drown my pain in the usual balm of long distance running, but instead I overexerted myself, collapsed on my bed and could not get up for hours. Much like the panic attack that took over my sense of reality in 2018, I knew I had to get help immediately.
And here I am, over one month later, having been through some of the worst days of my life. I'm still not happy with how everything has been, but I've been able to learn how to take life one day at a time. I am learning to trust God to "give [me] this day, [my] daily bread." To "not worry about tomorrow" because just getting through today is just enough to keep going.
My Dad often repeats a proverb to us in Haitian Kreyol:
"Piti piti, zwazo fè nich li."
Little by little, the bird builds his nest.
Little by little, piti piti, poco-a-poco -- I am placing my future in God's hands. I am no longer allowing the past send me into a downward spiral; meditation has helped me to refocus my mind from the negative memories to the beautiful moments that have come from this season. I am validating my heartbreak but not letting it destroy my soul. I am taking heart, being of good courage, and standing strong in the hope that God will keep me every step of this hard road.
This week, I've been able to regain parts of my life that I wasn't sure I'd be able to think about again. I'm reading and writing again. I started applying for jobs so that I can restart my career after this life sabbatical. I've been able to support BioGals, Inc., a non-profit organization that I recently joined as its newest board member. I'm thinking again about graduate school and how I can support my community, family and friends in ways that connect my God-given talents with what people need.
With my own personal dreams starting to come back into reach, I can begin to hope again. I'm believing that God will heal my church, my neighborhood, my country, mi querido Ecuador, mi patria Panamá, my family in the US Virgin Islands... and this whole wide world, wherever you are reading this today. Let's keep holding on. Together.
Little by little, we'll rise again. Trust the process. ☼