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Reflecting on The Pandemic: Grieving and Moving Forward Featuring Judy Joiner

As the Covid-19 numbers continue to become lower and stabilize, its time to look back and reflect on our time spent scared, alone, and unsure. We are finally in a safe enough time that we can assess and take inventory of the damage the last 2 years has brought us. This is one woman's account of her struggle during the beginning days of the pandemic. To process her feelings, she used journaling, sensory recall, and the hard emotional labor of integrating her sadness and grief.

"I have plenty of projects to do: finish building Evie’s doll house, paint gourds, color in my adult coloring books, needlepoint, picture album projects, read, read, read. I can sit on my porch and watch, as the days pass, the buds turn color. I can listen to the birds all a twitter over the promise of spring. I can listen to the rooster crowing incessantly trying to talk his hen friends into a romance. I can withstand not going out to eat in my favorite restaurants, I can tolerate not just casually running up to the Dollar Store or Walmart. I can give up camping in the woods. I can pretend I’m paddling on my favorite rivers but not let my paddle touch water right now. I can become the constant never ending short order cook for two. There are just so many pictures of the cat I can take but I take them anyway. But the thing I cannot take and the thing I struggle with the most is separation from my family.

I know I’m not alone but this is my struggle. And the not knowing. I’m strong most of the time but then it all bubbles up and I must cry if only to relieve some of the emotional pressure we all are feeling. The things I miss the most and long for terribly are such simple things. Things I have never taken for granted as I know only too well how quickly they can be snatched away. The things I miss are grandchildren running to me and launching their little bodies against mine in happiness to see me. I miss their child smell of dirt and sweat and outdoors and fresh shampoo. I miss the sound of squeals of laughter and screams of fights. I miss the conversations of the kids making up rules of pretend play and the fights that ensue because someone didn’t get their way. I miss the ownership of my pantry that each grandkids thinks is his or hers knowing that there are always snacks waiting for them there. I’m missing the look Evie gives me when she looks deep into my soul when I’m holding her and she tells me I’m beautiful and she loves me. I miss her telling me how much she likes my earrings. I miss Addis’s hugs and her creating a huge mess with my craft supplies as she creates pieces of art and hand drawn books. I miss Baby Bear and his stinker ways of holding his arms out to me to hold him them quickly withdrawing the invitation to tuck his head down on his mamas chest. I miss his easy laughter. I miss little Liam hugging my neck and his delight to see me telling me that me picking him up from school was the best part of his day and bringing me yellow flowers and a book to read. I miss Miss Bella stomping her feet at me telling me no that she doesn’t want to go potty. I miss her head on my chest as we sit in the rocker on the porch. I miss Sevi’s screech as the car door is opened and she screams “Namaw!” when she comes to visit. I miss her sideways glance at me to see if I really notice that she’s stolen a cookie or piece of chocolate. I miss Isla and her sweet baby rolls and her finally learning who Namaw really is. I miss their touch, their breath against my face, their little bodies pressed against me.

I miss their parents, the adults that are struggling with the same things I am. We have to be strong for them even when we sometimes can’t be strong for ourselves. This is why we cry in the darkness of night when all our precious babies, grown and little are sleeping innocently in the next room.

This has been difficult, an uncharted time in all our lives and I’m doing my part no matter how difficult so that I can to be reunited with my family and I can touch them and smell them again.

With all my love to my precious family and to all of us who struggle in this difficult time. Stay safe until we can be reunited."

By Judy Joiner, published author and world traveler

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