It has been two years since the coronavirus pandemic halted life as we knew it.
Everything we were familiar with, all of the little daily luxuries we depend on, were out of reach.
We were locked down.
In most cases, confined to our homes.
Many of us not knowing what to do with ourselves.
I remember a friend shared a video at the time with Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” playing through the hollowed streets of downtown Chicago’s Loop district.
It was haunting. And scary.
Scary because none of us knew what we were dealing with for sure. And because at the time, we were terrified of being infected with COVID-19, or, in many cases, even more terrified of our immune-compromised family and friends becoming infected.
And scary, because we were forced to deal with it alone, away from the comforting touch of our closest family and friends.
The friend that shared that video of “Stay with Me,” and has taken the pandemic seriously from the very beginning, because she is a scientist with a PhD, went on to lose a beloved family member on New Years’ Eve that year.
A family member who had taken every precaution possible to avoid getting infected, but got infected anyway. And died. A family member without a preexisting condition, other than he was elderly, though not elderly enough he didn’t have the potential of many active years ahead of him. Leaving behind a host of shocked, bereaved, and yes, maybe even angry, loved ones.
Angry, because so many around them were not taking the virus seriously, and in some cases disputing whether it was even real.
Angry, because their loved one died, when he did not have to die.
Although the coronavirus is not currently spreading at a high rate, it is still active. It still has the potential to kill, though perhaps not the number of people we were first afraid could be infected.
Still, millions of people die from this virus.
The loss of even one beloved family member or friend, who was otherwise healthy, is too much. This soul whose personality sparkled and whose spirit rippled out to touch hundreds, if not thousands of others during his lifetime, left a hole of epic proportions for those who knew him, and cared for him, and loved him.
Last evening, on the eve of Earth Day, I sat on the deck, and listened to “Stay with Me” playing on the television through the open patio door.
Breathing in deeply the open green space of our backyard, my mind went back to the time I watched that haunting video, and how much has changed since then.
Much of life has returned to a more normal state, although life will never be what it was before the pandemic started.
As I sat on the deck, just being, I thought for a moment how much time I have wasted in my life scrolling through social media accounts, and online in general. I know if I were to add up all the time I have spent on here, it literally has taken years off of my life.
That thought makes me want to cry.
As I approach the 50-year mark in a little over a month, I have come to understand on a real level what so many said as I was growing up. Life goes fast, and the older you get, each year seems to go faster. Many of my peers are experiencing that strange sensation of wondering “how did this happen? How did I get HERE?”
One minute you are in your 20s, 30s and 40s living life fully, working, maybe raising a family. And the next, more than half your life is over, and reality sets in.
A full and complete lifetime is not promised to a single one of us.
What am I going to do with the time I have left, many of us wonder? How am I going to make it as fruitful and life-giving as possible?
Whatever we want to do or be, we need to do it now.
I sat on the deck last evening, just being … just breathing … no laptop or phone in sight, thinking to myself, this world, this planet, we live on ever-so-briefly, and the various forms of life with which we share it, has so much to offer, so much to teach us.
Our lives can be so much richer, just from spending time outdoors, breathing in the oxygen that has been so freely given to us.
This is the way I want to be.
This is the way I want to breathe.
This is the way I want to live ... before it is too late.
- SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.