Day three in the same yoga pants (without doing yoga). Not sure which clothes are clean or dirty anyway, as the laundry pile is severely compromised.
The kids wanted chocolate cereal for dinner, and they got chocolate cereal for dinner. Captain’s log: Star Date, 2020. This is week five of our stay-at-home quarantine and it feels like a galaxy far, far away.
The first month was full of optimism and hope. FaceTime and Zoom cocktail hours with old friends. Small homeschool wins between tantrums, an actual science project completed with materials from our junk drawer, a decent essay about what we did during the weekend—surprising, as we did the same thing everyone else did, which was nothing. A few meals around the table with semi-fresh vegetables and conversation.
The devolution was so slow that it was almost imperceptible, one wheel coming off at a time. One too many nights with the kids crawling into the bed between us. One parent not working while the other tried to juggle a business from home, with the family circus background noise, as revenues evaporated. The stress of debt.
It all skidded to a halt on Easter. On Easter, as is typical in Telluride, it snowed.
We usually rejoice in snow. Even if we can’t ski, the moisture is good for farming, for the ecosystems. But it was my breaking point. We had decided on a family hike after sub-par Easter baskets and some reserved frivolity.
Apparently I had goaded the kids with talk of a snowball fight, just trying to get them outside for some fresh air and exercise. “Let’s go!” I said with a voice that was pretending to be cheery to hide the emptiness. It was somnambulance. One foot in front of the other.
My 11-year-old pegged me with a hardpacked ball of crusty ice mixed with gravel. In the face. It hit me with the weight of all of it, all of the bills unpaid, the effort of buying too much candy and silently filling baskets in the middle of the night, the unbearable uncertainty of being in charge and having no real idea of how to manage it all. I cursed and burst into tears.
It was a cascade; the kids started crying too, ashamed and hurt. I had officially ruined Easter.
I’m not the only one feeling despondent, collapsing in a bad moment, dropping below the surface as we all try to float in the current. Regular people are gasping for air, never mind the most vulnerable among us: People living alone, sequestered from human contact. Elderly people in nursing homes. Victims of domestic violence living 24/7 with abusive partners. Health care workers dealing with exposure and fear.
And of course the victims of the virus, dying in hospital beds with no visitors to hold hands or say final goodbyes. Days later, I learned of three people who had committed suicide. People battling much more challenging situations than I was; it was sobering.
I’m not asking you not to cry when the snowball hits. I know you have a game face and no one expects you to put that on every day. But we all need to do more personal things than just sew face masks or donate to GoFundMe pages during this crisis.
Check in on your neighbor. Leave a plate of food for someone who lives alone. Call that friend who is balancing too much, and has no support.
The strange thing about a lifeline is that it can be a buoy for the sender and the receiver—at a time when we feel so lost and adrift, connecting to someone who needs it can be powerful.
And it’s acceptable to break down, no matter if you are generally even-keeled and mostly surviving. We are all entitled to a bad day, an Easter failure, or a random moment of weakness. If there is one thing that connects us all, it is our imperfection.
We are only human, and it is OK to not be OK.
Deb Dion Kees is an editor/publisher living in Telluride.