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On Surviving

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

This morning, I was reading a column from a man who was passing along advice given to him and his wife by a nurse when his wife was diagnosed with cancer: your year is not going to look like what you thought it would. He, in turn, was passing this along to the rest of us. Covid-19, quarantine, social one's year is going to look like what we thought it might. He went on to note that we are all experiencing something that almost no one alive has - with the exception of survivors of the 1918 flu.

As I read that, I wondered if he meant people who had had the 1918 flu and survived it who might still be alive today, or just people who lived in that era. And then I wondered if, when this is all said and done, are we who are still standing all survivors? Do you need to have had a close brush with death to have survived this? Or is it just making it through, regardless of whether you have antibodies or not, regardless of the state of your mental health, that makes you a survivor.

From the comforts of my home, with the stability of two employed adults in our household with the luxury to work remotely, it seems silly to say we are surviving. I feel more grateful for my employment than ever. But the daily slog of it all, the confinement, the worry for my family and friends, the anger at the government for its failure to even attempt to stem the tide of this, the bewilderment that somehow lawyer life chugs on undaunted, the drinking too much in order to cope with the unrelenting sameness of each day and the unknown of the "what next", the rage at police fighting back at protests against police brutality with more brutality, and our so-called president steering us into fascism...maybe that's the struggle. To keep our heads when it all feels futile.

And so much of what I do on a daily basis feels futile. What is the point in keeping a schedule, in showering daily, in dealing with my hair and makeup other than for the occasional zoom video, in exercising, in trying to be creative? I went through a period of time where I just did not bother. And likely I will return to that stage again. But for now, I'm trying out getting up early enough to give the dog a good walk, make coffee, shower, and read a bit of news or a few pages in a book before I have to log on to work. I put on a little makeup so I look awake, or at least alive. We keep the house clean. I'm trying to work out at least a bit each day. I'm still drinking more than I would ever care to admit to my doctor, but I suppose we all have our vices and need some coping mechanisms.

I may never feel comfortable calling myself a survivor of this pandemic, but I have endured it. Am enduring it. And I hope you are, too.


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