I finished with The God of Small Things. It was beautifully heartbreaking, a reminder that we all contribute to the lives around us, and that it is not always a good thing.
I'm now reading Wintering. Such an interesting little book. You glide from abscission to hazel dormice to first sleeps and second sleeps. Katherine May makes the point that we all have winters in our lives and there is a real grace to knowing that they are simply a season. She suggested that we simply learn to endure that season knowing full well that after winter comes spring, and with spring, new growth.
I understood what she was saying right away. All my life, I have worked, and I have worked very hard. I can't be any other way. But I remember cancer, and how very suddenly, everything stopped. It had to. I had to avoid crowds. I was homebound. For the first time in years, my house was tidy and it stayed that way. I was able to sit down and watch a movie or read a book without feeling guilty. I took a nap in the afternoon and there was no shame.
That was nice.
(Don't get me wrong, cancer sucked but there was a nice lesson that came out of it.)
That lesson quickly fell to the wayside when cancer was done. I went back to work, Life once again was arranged around work. Afternoon naps were out of the question: like as not I was tramping through a swamp or the woods. It was a physically demanding job. I was also out of shape. I was a one woman show and it was my responsibility. Coming home from it, I was struggling to accomplish all the other things that I had to do. Once again, I found myself felling guilty if I sat down with a book. Or watch television.
Now, we've got a pandemic. This 'winter' feels something like that 'winter' 12 years ago. I mean, I'm not wondering whether I'm going to die, but there are similarities. My job ended in March. I'm pretty much living my life inside my four walls. I once again have a tidy house. I am reading books. Watching a netflix movie most Saturday nights. We don't go out much. The great ham hunt on Christmas eve was the longest amount of time we've spent in public in months, really.
Sunday, I was on the computer, and Tim became a little grumpy. He thinks that I spend too much time on the internet in the morning. I like my morning cup of coffee. It started out that I spend an hour roaming around on line, reading the news. Now that I'm homeschooling, I don't have time for that morning routine. The boys both have to be on line at 7:55, which means that I have to get up, get showered, and be ready to go. So on the weekends, I get up, wander to the kitchen, make my coffee and come back to drink it at the computer. I don't limit myself to an hour either.
So Tim began to do his angry sniff, like he does.
I said, "You know, I'm not going to feel badly about this. You're laid off. You don't feel a bit guilty about sitting down and watching football for an afternoon. Or Monday night. Or Thursday night (the Steelers are (were?) having a stellar year and will surely make the playoffs, so he's been keen on all the games, to scope out the competition).
He looked at me uncomfortably.
"I'm not saying you can't. In fact I'm not saying anything at all. I just think I deserve the same respect. I don't have time for anything during the week, and I think I'm due a little time to myself without feeling ashamed."
He's a good man who rarely responds emotionally. He thought this over and agreed.
It is winter, a season, and this pandemic makes it different from the days of cancer. It is not just my winter. It is not just my season. We're all struggling.
In the end, seasons change. Spring will come.
PS: Tell the others.