Bernadette – She Sees You.

It seems most everything in my life is about Covid now … and the stress is remarkable. So far, no one in my family is sick, none of my immediate friends are sick … there is a very very real and very very nebulous suspense. When will it arrive? I feel the coolness of the shadow swaying above me, the piano ready to drop, ropes creaking at the weight.

Living with this kind of perpetual suspense is shocking and difficult, it wears my energies thin. I try to go on, really feeling life and really being a part of it – and, at the same time I find a mountain of weight and distraction and fear and a weariness that lays across my shoulders in a new way.

Communal in our isolation we gather on laptops and phones, we see each other through cameras or at a great distance. But we are seen.

I am not afraid to admit fear and I have found that unnamed fear is a danger to me – whereas named fear is empowering. So I will name:

I am afraid of Covid.

I am afraid of becoming ill or dying.

I am afraid of the moment my loved ones become ill.

I am afraid of mass graves.

I am afraid of our politicians and their lack of mercy, their lack of honesty, their lack of integrity.

I am afraid of the damage being done to our economy.

I am afraid of the damage being done to our minds.

I am afraid of how divided our country is on the simple matter of mask wearing.

I am afraid for our children and their limited socialization.

I am afraid for the families who must choose between financial survival and physical survival.

I am afraid of not being able to breathe.

I am afraid for so many Black men and women killed while they beg for air – because they cannot breathe.

I am afraid of a system that normalizes suffocation.

I am afraid that it has all gone too far.

And yet….

I am no longer afraid of being afraid (god what a weight lifted).

I am no longer afraid of facing this world without a husband or a partner.

I am no longer afraid of the blank page or the blank canvas.

I am no longer afraid to speak and risk being un-liked or misunderstood.

I am no longer afraid of my voice or my art or the consequence of using either.

See… because there is this piano… and I cannot prevent its inevitable fall – but I can choose the song I am singing when it hits.

I can choose how I live and how many people in my community I protect by sitting in that shadow isolated and masked.

I can protect those I love by not hugging them.

Which seems surreal and backward and broken … but I live in the surreal, converse with the backward and love the broken.

And through all of this, I see you. The families that attend funerals via video, the parents frightened they will lose jobs because they can’t find child care, those who cannot breathe and those who feel some kind of guilt because they can. I see you, who fight for your liberties against a system telling you to ‘mask up’ because there is so little else you can fight and you are so frightened. I see you, the separated parents, co-parenting and passing your children back and forth from one quarantined environment to another … hoping it will all be okay. I see you taking public transportation despite the risk because you have to get to work. I see you one the school board, trying to make everyone happy and keep everyone safe and being attacked and admonished because you will never be able to do it all. I see how you beat yourself up.

I see you, my neighbors, waving from your windows as I run past – we all wave now. An exchanged smile dropping into my heart as a reminder that I exist, that I am seen.

You are seen, you are not alone.

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