My mind has been on isolation tonight. Surprisingly, it’s not the physical isolation that Coronavirus has imposed on us in its novelty. No, it’s the isolation that comes with loss. These two aspects of my life are colliding with ironic and painful parallels.
My family, my friends, people I know, people I don’t… the world is panicking because of this unknown illness. And strangely, I sit here on an island of emotional paralysis—let me be clear, not in regard to taking necessary precautionary measures, but rather my situational lack of fear.
I’ve spent time this last week doing some deep self-reflection, pondering why. It has bothered me. People are losing hope. They are afraid. They’re in tears. And understandably, rightfully so. Their fears are valid. But I am disconcertingly numb. Today, I realized why.
You see, Coronavirus has removed something we typically operate under the illusion of having: control. No longer can we take regular measures to keep our health in tact while we are out and about. No longer can we decide when we will visit restaurants, see other people, even go outside. No longer can we—beyond reasonable doubt—trust that our older relatives and immunocompromised loved ones will be safe if they live with the caution they always have. No longer can we make plans for our future. This is terrifying.
WHY. AM. I. NUMB.
Because for two years, I watched a disease I couldn’t control slowly and agonizingly steal the life of someone I loved more dearly than life itself, until it took him away from me altogether. And now, the magnitude of this loss has brought me harrowing emptiness in the face of this multiplying, obscure illness.
Many times, I think I have come to satisfactory terms with my grief, and then something happens and throws me off course. Tonight, it is the emotional isolation I feel as those around me cope with the situation we all find ourselves in. As others draw together, I feel alone. Because when you lose a lifeline, you lose part of yourself.
It may happen quickly, it may happen slowly. Part of you that served as a foundational building block sort of crumbles away, leaving a space. You grasp at maintaining normal connections, normal friendships, normal life activities. You hide your grief behind other aspects or your life so often that suppressing it becomes habitual. Until suddenly, years have gone by, and something happens to hit you in the chest with the hard realization that your loss is still very much present, and that it is still possible to be surrounded by people and feel very much alone.
Losing someone does a weird sort of thing to your outlook. You spend the entire decline of that person’s health in fear. Fear of bad news, fear of pain, fear of the future. And then they are taken from you. Life becomes a black hole. But eventually, you climb out of the pit, thanks to the hands of your family, your friends, your therapist, your pets, anti-depressants, or even your own passions. And then, you realize that the thing you have feared the most, well, it has happened. You lost all the control you spent your life believing you had. And somehow, you’re still standing.
Coronavirus has imposed many of these same feelings of darkness and uncertainty on the entire human race. People say there is irony in all of this because we were moving at such an exponential pace, and with such disregard to the health of humankind, that we did this to ourselves. I sit with painful irony tonight, too. My father died of lung cancer. As a never-smoker. It still hurts so terribly to type these words. The cruelty continues as I reflect on the diagnosis that fateful November. Lung Canger Awareness Month. It will always sting.
I aim to categorize myself as a person who tries her hardest to see the bright side. I truly believe that positivity can change a situation—perhaps not the outcome, but definitely how we grow from it. And most times, I can do that. But tonight, Coronavirus has been hard on me, not because of the explicit worry it’s producing, but because it’s been a long, hard look into revisiting feelings that the death of my father threw down upon me.
While I want to be optimistic (and I will be, again), tonight, I must acknowledge the feelings that I still face every day. No matter what, this loss, this lack of control, this isolation, it will always be a part of me. I post this tonight simply so that you know, if you’ve ever felt like I am feeling right now, you’re not alone. I hope you find comfort in our solidarity.
And my hope for tomorrow is for contrast, that, like loss, we learn from this new disease, and that the isolation, fear and uncertainty it brings will soon be something we know how to manage. May clarity be found to propel us toward recovery, rebuilding, and brighter days ahead.