It is a thin line
Between disappointment and despair
Between pity and compassion
Between happiness and joy
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.