Diary 7/13/20


                        Judi Bachrach

It is a thin line

Between disappointment and despair

Between pity and compassion

Between happiness and joy


Depression/ grief


Only by crossing the lines

do I find

they are transformative

doorways in disguise

I was so disappointed when the word came down from the Ohio governor that I could no longer see my grandson when my daughter came to visit me outdoors for masked, distanced, timed contact. Like an arrow, this further restriction punctured through a protective inner shield straight into a well of despair. Because children under two cannot wear a facemask, he is ineligible to come here. Max had already squirmed through two such earlier visits and seemed to accept I was Grandma under the mask sitting at the other end of a long table. We sang one of our standard songs (This old man, he played one…”) and I used a decorated sock as a hand puppet for entertainment when he got bored looking around at a new landscape.

When I heard about this new mandate, I didn’t know there was despair lurking inside. I fell into, “I will never…this will always…why can’t I…” kind of thoughts and got snappish and grumpy. Finally, at night, I cried as I gave into the sorrow of all this loss we keep encountering while the pandemic levels rise and fall around us. I know this is the way it will be for a very long time- working vaccines are still in the distant future and I suspect my living status in the Care Center at Kendal will be the last to experience any ease of restrictions. I am both well protected and cut off from any normal flow of intermingling life beyond my elders up and down our limited hallways and two enclosed gardens. The lack of engagement with others has been hard on everyone here.

I am so fortunate to have the option of leaving Kendal to stay at my daughter’s house for a while which will be followed by two weeks of being sequestered in my room. We have planned another such visit for August and meanwhile, my Kendal friends from the larger community are now allowed visits if other families have not already reserved the three canopied and sanitized spaces open for all of the Care Center residents. I am very grateful this is possible. Keeping in touch with my friends from the rest of Kendal has been skimpier than any of us would like. Somehow, just paying attention to managing our new lives has kept us all busy, even as our old activities together have fallen away.

As to the other thin lines I wrote out above, I have recent examples of encountering them all. I am sure you have also discovered events that triggered those responses. For instance, most acutely, is my personal understanding of long held ideas about racial justice and taking action to make them realized in the world and reviewing them to see that my words align with my deeds. The line between happiness and joy may sound like the most pleasant line to explore, but it also requires an honest self- inventory. Fleeting reasons for happiness are not the same as discovering a deep sense of joy that intertwines with all of life experiences as a basis for being human. I can say that when I have whole heartedly entered any of the doorways above, I am often graced with a taste of an underlying ever-present joy.

8 thoughts on “Thin Lines

  1. It is the small losses that remind us of how close we are to the big ones. I was just walking the dog and writing my next blog post in my head and it was about exactly this — how everyday pleasures of “the before time” are so poignant when they are lost. At least you can be without your mask when you FaceTime.


  2. yes, without mask on FaceTime is full of goofy smiles and singing to the little guy. Full throttle engaging face to face is the most fun whenever he is interested. August will see me back at his house soon enough. I look forward to your posts.


  3. Oh Judi, This post broke my heart. I hope you and your family are able to be together for some time, and that you can manage the return with the required isolation period. I just don’t know what to make of it all. So many hard choices…and we are not always sure what or why we are choosing what we choose. I can’t help but wonder how masks are changing the way children connect to people. Face time and Zoom, etc are more important than ever for kids who need to see and feel facial expression if they can’t have it when they are in person. I know you have the inner resources to manage this insanity. Sending lots of love and goofy smiles, Bonnie


  4. Lots of love and goofy smiles go a long way to support the heart connections! I will visit my sweeties again in September as of now- and cyber connect twice daily when possible.xoJ


  5. Ah, the paralleles. We are in an ‘isolation paradise’ here in the suburbs of Olivebridge. Fireflies galore and the occasional lightening flash and … and no one to hug but each other. Sure that is real grace and yet the longing for the ‘usual variety’ of such touching is wearing. I can’t even remember the last time I actually touched another human being. Seems forever. And just to sit and schmooz in someone elses air/breath. The sweetness of it. Never knew how much I would miss it. I think I would flirt with madness if I was in your position with a new grandkid. Hang in there. Hang on. Hang….. We will survive and ‘look back on’ . The line is so thin between now and next.


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