In February, about a month after Michiel died, I thought I was breaking. I don’t really know another way to describe it. If you’ve lost someone you loved deeply, then you know. There’s this moment, when life feels like it should be returning to normal—and it has for everyone around you—but you know that there’s no normal to return to. Life, as you knew it, doesn’t exist anymore.
And so the feeling is one of being unmoored and adrift. It’s something shattering into sharp little pieces. And it’s being utterly and completely alone even in rooms filled with people.
One night in February I’d had friends over for wine and snacks on a Friday after work. And I laughed and told stories and then they walked out the door and I felt something break inside of me as clearly as if I’d heard the snap.
That was a very hard night.
A few days later I was talking to my mom on the phone and told her I was struggling. She invited me to come and stay with them for awhile—until I started to heal and feel a little better. I told her that I appreciated her offer, but I had a life in Charlotte I couldn’t leave. I had a job I went to daily, a social life, and other obligations. Not to mention, I had my pride—while it may have sounded tempting, running away to my parents’ home just wasn’t an option.
A month later a worldwide pandemic closed that office I went into every day, eliminated my social life, and pushed any other obligations into Zoom calls. And so, I moved into my parents’ home. And I began to heal.
Life is so peaceful here. I’m writing this from their porch, where I’ve spent countless hours listening to the breeze and wind chimes and birds chirping. Our mornings start with warm coffee and conversation in the living room in our pajamas. We go on long walks around the farm with the dogs and hug each other goodnight before bed.
It’s not all perfect. Work is stressful and my heart still hurts. But I keep thinking that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I wonder if there are other people who feel that way too. A friend told me the other day that being furloughed at home has meant he’d been there for his daughter’s first word and first steps. Another friend has talked about how this time has reminded her to slow down and take care of herself—for the first time ever.
I would never want to downplay the pain of what’s happening in the world right now. But I also think that I want to be grateful for every moment I’m given—and I’ve realized that I’m actually especially grateful for the moments over the last six weeks.
I’m not sure I’m jumping on board with all those hippie memes about how this was the time for the earth to take a breath. But I do know that in the strangest way this time has been an answer to prayers I didn’t even know to pray. And I’m betting I’m not alone in that feeling.