When I need to process something, I usually sit down with my journal and write about it until my hand feels ready to fall off. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. Sorting and sifting through a myriad of feelings until they start making sense just feels right.
And yet I’ve barely written anything about the pandemic itself in my trusty little notebook. I’ve got a few entries, but for the most part, I wrote about other things. The pandemic has apparently been too bizarre for me to even try to process. The little that I’ve written is just very detached, numb recounting of specific details with no attempt to dissect how I was feeling.
We’re two years in now, and the day that I considered the start of the pandemic is still crystal clear. It was March 13 for me– the day my husband’s work informed the employees they’d be working from home for at least two weeks, and the day my son’s school closed. I was at work when the school announcement came through, and I put my head down on my desk and tried to hold back tears in the face of the unknown. But as scary as it was, it seemed manageable. Work from home for two weeks, school closed for about a month. That wasn’t too long…
The First “Anniversary”
One year in, on March 13, 2021, I felt all out of sorts. It felt like something we should commemorate– an anniversary, I suppose– but what do you do? How do you mark that kind of occasion? I wanted to acknowledge the date in some way, but I was aware that March 13th wasn’t even the true start of the pandemic– just the day that it became very real for me. It helped a little that other people felt the same way around the same time, but no one really seemed to know what to do. We all appeared to cope by sharing a ton of memes and dark humor (my favorite coping mechanism).
But now we’re two years in, and March 13th has come and gone. In fact, we held my son’s birthday party on March 13th this year, and I even commented to someone that it felt… normal?
But are things back to normal? For a while, I thought getting back to “normal” would be like flipping a switch. Quarantine would end, masks would disappear, the virus would be eradicated, and it would all be a distant memory. Then, for an even longer while, I wallowed in the despair that normal would never come back, and we’d be trapped in this upside-down world where nothing felt right for the rest of time. That was a dark spiral. I flinched whenever I heard the phrase “new normal,” not wanting to adjust, only wanting to go back. Now it seems like I’m floating along in a weird sort of quasi-normal. I don’t know how to explain it. I know the pandemic isn’t over, but life goes on.
Do we keep moving forward with things slowly continuing to get better? How many more variants and surges are going to slam us into more setbacks? Am I going to feel this way about March 13th every year? Am I going to brace myself against a day that feels all wrong, but without a way to process it? Should I be grieving what happened? Celebrating how far we’ve come? Taking time to feel all the emotions? Living my best life in defiance of what happened? I just don’t know.
It’s a lot of questions and little to no answers, which is my least favorite way to deal with life, but I don’t know that I can change that. I guess maybe it’s time to try to journal about it some more and see where that gets me. If nothing else, we’ve made it this far, and we just have to keep going.