I have to admit something to you, dear reader. I had nothing planned for my final Corona Diaries entry.
I’ve made bread, I wrote about my favorite things, but somehow, I got all the way to the end of the week and I had nothing else planned to share with you.
My whole life, I’ve heard people say, “When you plan, God laughs.” I’m not a very religious person, but I do believe in some higher power. And while we all had plans for these months, the aforementioned statement means a little more now during the uncertainty and tribulations that come along with a global pandemic than ever.
This is typically a time when New Orleans shines – festival season. We planned to do the same thing we do every year in the springtime – festivals, crawfish boils, family vacations. But whether it is because of God, karma or just the natural path of the universe, those plans have been cancelled and we are dealing with a pandemic effecting the entire world.
This sudden change has brought me new insight into myself, the people around me and the community I live in.
I’ve learned how much of a planner I actually am and how I should start working on that part of myself – to learn to roll with the punches. I’ve always been a planner. I had my whole life – or what I thought it would be – mapped out when I just started high school. (Though I remember that plan, and I thank the Lord, Buddha and Barbra Streisand that that is not the path my life took.)
In addition to my natural plannerness, when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at a young age, I had to begin to plan my social outings. I follow the idea of Spoon Theory – that you have a certain amount of energy spoons a day and one you run out you need to say, “no,” and take care of yourself. Well, my spoons tend to run out quickly, so I have to plan my days, my outings and my festival-going around how my arthritis makes me feel that day.
Though I don’t have to really change my days, now that I’m social distancing at home all the time, this whole experience has still messed with my plans and the plans of those around me. We’re all learning how to accept the change, to lean into it. And though we’ll go into the rest of the year a little more flexible, I think we’re still all trying get used to how quickly life can change.
Something I didn’t plan for, but am grateful for, is the deeper connection I have made with my friends and family. I don’t think I realized how much I didn’t personally interact with people who I considered very close to me. Now, I am talking to people on the phone (am I the only one that never talked on the phone a lot before?), I’m going out of my way to stop at people’s houses and yell at them from my car and I definitely think I need to buy stock in Zoom and House Party.
It’s interesting how tragedy and shared experiences can bring us closer. Going through life events with another person creates a bond with them. One person I’ve bonded with, though I haven’t mentioned them in this week of diary entries, is my brother. Because of our 14-year age difference — I’m the younger sibling — we’ve occasionally had rocky roads in our relationship, experiencing moments and milestones in our lives at different times. But in these last couple of years, tragedy and hardship has brought my brother and I closer than we ever have been.
The loss of a dog may seem trivial to some, but to my brother and me, dogs are everything. After I was bitten in the face by a dog as a toddler, I was terrified of them for much of my life– until my brother brought home the most gorgeous chocolate lab puppy. Bayou completely changed my whole view on dogs and, I believe, created a life-long obsession. About a year and a half ago, Bayou passed away. He changed both of our lives, and his passing obviously devastated us. But in that shared devastation and joint emotion created a bond unlike anything else.
When my grandma was dying, my brother and I took it harder than most. Our grandmother was a huge part of our lives, as our mom was a single mother who needed to work (God bless Linda). My brother was her oldest grandchild and I was second to youngest. We both lived with her while growing up; she had taken care of us, picked us up from school, attended every significant event in our lives.
Since her passing, I have leaned on my brother more than ever before. He has always been there for me, but it’s different this time. We need each other – whether he wants to admit it or not. And through that change in plans and in the middle of uncertain tragedy, something beautiful has happened.
I hope that with the tragedy that has come with the coronavirus pandemic, we can all learn to lean on each other a little more. We need to cut everyone some slack, we’re all trying to cope. We need to be there for each other. Plans, life — that will always change. But the bonds that we form now and continue to maintain, even after we rebuild and return to normal, are what matters the most.
Thank you, dear readers, for indulging me this week, allowing me to share my thoughts, feelings and need for bread.
I took a serious tone for this entry, but we are living in a serious time. I hope we all come together as a community, rebuild and learn from what’s happening in the world.
Be kind to one another.
The Corona Diaries is a joint project of the Renaissance Publishing Staff. Each week during the series, a different member of our staff will share their day-to-day experiences with working from home, social distancing and the other ups and downs of living through the pandemic.