Pausing Amidst the Pandemic
As with all moments of pain, we become so much more intimate with what is beautiful. So it was today, as I conducted a “virtual” checkup with a 7 year old. My heart swelled with the preciousness of “coming into her house” as she jumped around her room proudly showing me her toys.
In this moment of pain, I am seeing such resilience. I am seeing families with almost unbearable fear manage their fear, and do what is right. They are washing their hands, they are staying home, they are keeping their families safe, they are loving their children, extending their hands to their communities. And as I witness this beauty, a light is also being shone on much that is wrong in our culture. As the beautiful pandemic inspired poem by Kitty O’Meara so eloquently expressed, “And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply.”
I’ve been struck over the last 25 years as a pediatrician, by the startling rise in anxiety and depression in children. And in families with SO much love and support. Our culture is just so hard. A 15 year old commented to me the other day, that life feels so much more relaxing during the pandemic, so much less stressful than typical life in 10th grade. Is it possible we will gain new insights into this during this quiet time?
I am braced for the pain of what might come, but my heart is open to the beauty. Since the pandemic, every morning, our office staff meets to talk about managing the day, how to continue to keep our office safe for the families that need to be seen. And as I sit in this room with our nurses, front desk staff, technicians and doctors, I am filled with gratefulness for their commitment, courage and grace. (Note to self: When the pandemic is over, don’t stop the morning meetings with the staff that remind us of our commonality of purpose. Don’t forget to ask my co-worker how her heart is aching.)
And I know all of your hearts are aching too. You miss your parents, your grandparents; you worry about elderly relatives that live far away; you worry that you won’t get to go to your child’s high school or college graduation; you worry that the 5-year-old birthday party won’t happen. And we are collectively mourning the pain of our community, our country and our world.
But our hearts are also opening. We are hoping and praying that this enforced isolation will soon be over. But what can we integrate into our lives from this time? More space to sit and do nothing? More time to be with our children in a quiet way without distractions? More time to take stock of what we love and care about? More time to celebrate the preciousness of being alive. Like all moments of deep pain, there is an opening of possibility amidst the despair.
This time of year in Washington is so lovely. The cherry blossoms are so luminescent, so ephemeral. In one week they will be gone. And so too, this moment will pass, with all its pain and its beauty.
As always, let us know if you have concerns and how we can help you cope during this time. We are part of your extended family.
Dana Kornfeld, MD 4/3/20