Mike and Sarah share Sunday posts, as they are two widows who are in a new relationship together.
Today’s post is from Sarah:
A friend of mine posted last week asking for people to share things they have learned going through this whole health pandemic – either about themselves, society, or just life in general. In an effort to write something today that has a bit of lightness to it, I thought I’d jot down a few things I’ve learned through this whole craptastic experience we have found ourselves in.
- I have now learned how to grocery shop like I just won a $5000 shopping spree and have only 10 minutes to spend it. The sheer stress of even being inside of a public building is so exhausting that I have begun challenging myself to wait 3 weeks between grocery visits. This means I now strategically organize my grocery list to the layout of the store so that I can get in and out as quickly as possible. There is no standing around trying to decide whether to buy corn flakes or frosted flakes. Decisions are planned ahead of time, and there is little deviation once in the store.I used to actually really enjoy grocery shopping before all this, which might sound sad. Now though, with the extra time it takes to plan it all out and the constant looming feeling of germs floating around me, it’s a lot more like I’m on some secret spy mission, taking every measure possible not to be infiltrated by the corona. I believe curbside pickup is soon to be my new method.
- Related to #1, I can now stack a single grocery cart like the leaning tower of Pisa and get all the way through the grocery store and out to my car without anything falling. I consider this to be a tremendous new skill to have. I am not certain where else I will ever be able to use this skill, save for a once-a-decade game of giant Jenga, however I am proud nonetheless to have leveled up in this pointless way.
- A surprising amount of people had no idea when this all started that you can use rubbing alcohol as hand sanitizer. Really? When I first when to the store to try and get some, and obviously the hand sanitizer was all sold out, I went over to the pharmacy area and found a complete, beautiful, full shelf of rubbing alcohol. How people did not go to rubbing alcohol as a plan B still mystifies me.
- The only fast food that matters anymore in my life is pizza. pizza. PIZZA. If steakhouses, buffets, Chinese restaurants, sandwich shops, BBQ or mexican, seafood places, bar & grills, breakfast joints, or any other kind of food establishments disappeared tomorrow, I’d be fine. The only thing I need is pizza.
This is actually something I did not know about myself before the coronavirus. Pizza is not even close to my favorite food. As it turns out though, when I am allowing myself only one takeout meal a week, absolutely nothing else has won out over pizza. Thankfully, the rest of the household is in full agreement on this. So every Friday night we now order a metric ton of pizza and wings from our favorite local pizza place down the street and gorge for 2 days straight. It is a glorious thing. (That being said, I still wish no closures on any of the other glorious foods out there!)
- I’ve learned that – if you go to a church service that looks more like you’re at Woodstock, you are 100% safe from Covid19. This is because, as these folks have let us know in interviews on the news, you have “Jesus’s blood on you and you won’t get it”. Now unless Jesus is a raging alcoholic, I’m going to say there is no way that his blood has enough alcohol in it to do you any good. So either these people know something about Jesus’s affinity for the bottle that we don’t know about, or they are just deciding to be irresponsible with other people’s lives and health. (Note: I think religion is a fine thing. I have nothing against Jesus… Only irresponsible people.)
- I’ve not been laughing enough in my day to day life before this. Nothing makes you realize both how important laughter is and how much more of it you need than the isolation chamber that is now our homes. Mike, Shelby, and I have spent more time watching funny videos on Youtube, old music videos of Weird Al Yankovic, following along with comedians on social media… I’ve finally discovered TikTok and my world has been changed forever by this. There are so many things out there that have been reminding us to laugh.
Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve realized the importance of laughter. As a newly widowed person, I found a deeper appreciation for humor and laughter in the midst of darkness too. It became such a lifeboat. Especially when I discovered Camp Widow and laughed with other widowed people. During this pandemic, I am only remembering what I’d learned before… not only to surround yourself with things that keep you laughing, but also with people who have a great sense of humor and who keep you silly.
- I have learned just how isolated my regular life was before this. I already work from home, as an artist, making stuff and selling it mostly online. Mainly I’ve just been reminded of how long I can happily go without physically seeing the humans that don’t live with me. I really don’t have very many friends locally where we live. Most of my close friendships exist via text, phone, and video calls already because we’re so spread apart. So basically the only changes for me are the extra hour and a half I get back from not driving my kid to and from school every day, and not having to make a dozen grocery store trips a week for various things I’ve forgotten to grab on the last trip. This has been glorious for me. I’m finishing books I’ve been trying to finish for the past 2 years. My closet is cleaner than it has been in five years. It has given me more time in my art studio to create. We have only so far had some minor financial shifts. So I cannot complain.It has also given me time to reflect back on other difficult or isolating times in my life, most notably, when Drew died. I learned after his death what was most important to me – being in nature, time with my favorite people, and making things. I am reminded by all this isolating that, for me, those are still the 3 most important things that make me happy. There is something to be said for having the chance to revisit that kind of simplification again.
- Related to #7, I’ve learned – to my surprise – that people still buy art during a pandemic of epic proportions. I honestly expected all of my fine art sales to come to a screeching halt during all of this. It seemed like that would be the last thing on people’s mind, as it’s not an essential like your mortgage or food. And here we are, a month or so in, and I’ve continued to have about normal sales. Each time I am stupefied. I suppose, maybe things like art and music and creativity in general are more essential to people than I even realized in a time like this. Not the same kind of essential, but an essential for the soul. I can say that in no other time have I been more aware of the underlying purpose of artwork and of what I do. I am much more aware now that someone is buying a piece of my art because it brings them peace, comfort, and joy during a trying time. And really, even during good times, that’s why we buy art or listen to music, etc. I’ve learned from the wonderful people still buying my work right now, that my art – and art in general – matters in a way I maybe never have realized before.
- Just like when I was first widowed, this time has really helped me to see who in my life is worth my time. The people who have been there, checked in on Mike, Shelby and I.. the ones who have done video calls with us or just more frequent phone calls. Just like when widowed, you find the folks who want to be closer to you during a difficult time, and the folks who aren’t invested enough to bother. Even if all we’re doing is trying to fill some of the extra time, it means they’ve decided they want to fill that extra time with me. And I with them. Remember in the middle of being widowed when you suddenly had permission to just kick people out of your life who weren’t really stepping up? 100% guilt free? I feel like we’re being given another chance to weed that garden again folks!
- And finally, one of the bigger things I’ve learned is not something new at all… but in fact is just a remembering of the lessons from being widowed. This one I saved for last because – I know some of this list had nothing to do with being widowed – but this one right here… is all about it. So many times each week I have been reminded that I’ve been through so much worse than this. When I start to get fearful or feel uncertain, I remember how I couldn’t feed myself after Drew died and I lost 10lbs in a week just from sitting in shock. I remember how I couldn’t even drive for a month. How I couldn’t remember things like normal again for years – and really still I have trouble with that a bit. I remember how completely debilitating his sudden death was. I remember sitting with my back against his headstone at the cemetery, crying hysterically, every week. I remember being afraid… more afraid than I’d ever been before. For the first time ever, afraid for my life. I was not afraid I would physically die, or take my life, but I was very very terrified that I was so completely broken that I’d be broken forever. I was so scared my soul had been shattered beyond repair. I thought I’d lost ME. I’m sure it has happened for many of us.Over time, slowly, with small glimmers of hope, I began to see my soul healing, and I started to see proof that I was actually, by some miracle, still in there. That this unfathomable event did not destroy the things about me that have always been “me”. But for a while there, I didn’t know, and it was the single most terrifying thing I’ve ever faced.So this last one is big, and much more serious than a lot of the others… because each week when fear comes in, I can remember where I’ve been. I can remember a hundred different ways that I’ve felt fear bigger than all of this. Yes, I have been very afraid of losing people I love to this virus. I am constantly thinking of this. And trying emotionally to “prepare” myself for who I might lose. But, even that is not the biggest fear I’ve ever faced. The biggest fear was a fear of losing my own self. And I didn’t lose her then, and I won’t lose her now.
We widows know fear really well. And we also know a LOT of ways to help quiet it. By listening, making things, sharing it out loud, laughing, journaling, or sometimes just crying a good, ugly cry. We know how to do this. We know how to survive. How to be patient. How to be kind to ourselves. How to manage fear.
We know all of this because we are widowed. Because we went through one of the most unfathomable pains and came out the other side, even though we didn’t know we could (And even if we’re still in the worst of it, we are learning, we are surviving, and we have the support of so many others who are fear experts right here with Soaring Spirits).
We know all of this not just because of death, but also because we continue to know love. Because going through losing your partner, you gradually learn that the love you share together doesn’t die when they leave this earth. You learn that they continue to shape your life for all the years to come. They bring people into your world you’d have never otherwise met who bring beauty and joy and healing. They help to forge closer bonds with those you already hold dear in your world. They teach you in a hundred different ways how to be a stronger, more resilient version of yourself. Maybe even how to be a version of yourself you’ve always wanted to be. They teach you things that are going to help you for the rest of your life. In that way, no one ever really dies.
….Sorry, I know at the beginning I said this post was going to be all light and fluffy. I lied… it was an accidental sneak attack, starting out with all those funnies and landing in a big deep hole of seriousness. But it was an important one, and one that we should remember…
We’ve got this. Be safe and well.