Our world has been thrust into unchartered territories these past few months and the U.S. is just starting to feel the impact that other countries have been intensely facing, like Italy and China. Coronavirus has taken over, not only, our hospitals, groceries stores, restaurants, and places of work, but it has also taken over our mind. Our society, as a whole, is experiencing the fear and anxiety that comes with facing our own mortality, as well as, simply facing the unknown behind this disease. Our family’s no different. We recently got a difficult unknown response from our daughter’s cardiologist. You see, Neeley is still recovering from pericarditis and has at least 3 more weeks until she is back to full speed. We asked the cardiologist if Neeley were to contract the coronavirus while she is still symptomatic, would her health be more significantly impacted? He gave us a weak smile and simply said: “I just don’t know. None of us know enough about how this virus works. I recommend you follow the CDC as they have the most up-to-date reports. You can always check in if she has any issues, but let’s hope for the best.”
Hope is something we hold on to dearly in our house. As many of you know, our oldest daughter, Halle, died 5 years ago and our other two kiddos, Neeley (16) and Ben (almost 14) have compromised immune systems and a list of other diagnoses that impact their daily lives. Because of our family situation, we tend to be overly cautious and wipe down everything around us frequently. We have been known to self-isolate during significant outbreaks of flu or other viruses that spread. We take the precautions our doctors recommend in normal circumstances, but this virus is a different beast – like nothing any of us have seen before. And we are like most of you, we are anxious and fearful of this pandemic. But I have found that raising children with chronic illness has taught me a few things. We have learned to not only be cautious during serious times like this, and to heed the warnings of the professionals, but we have also learned to be grateful…grateful for each day we are given as no one is promised what tomorrow holds. Our family, tries to live life to the fullest…but somehow those fears still creep in.
So, what are we to do during times like this?
We do our best to focus on the positive. I got my work done this morning and headed out to a local park with Neeley to get a socially – isolated walk in before I got my afternoon lecture done. I made sure Neeley and I hand sanitized up and ventured out into the fresh air. For an hour I forgot all that was going on around us and just enjoyed the company of my daughter. Then I got a text that our kids’ prescriptions were ready at Publix. Those anxieties crept back in. As I entered the store, I saw empty shelves and people walking around, 6-feet apart, with their heads down just trying to get what they need quickly and get out. I went by the pharmacy and picked up our meds and tried to get out before I was exposed to too many people. As I was leaving, I walked past the empty shelves where paper products once stood and I wondered why everyone chose toilet paper to hoard at a time like this and then it hit me. My fear is universal. My anxiety is not alone. We are all coping with this in our own way…and one of those ways is by trying take control of some part of our life, when so much more is out of control. We feel if we can purchase that product everyone is in need of, then we are ahead of the game. And maybe just maybe we will be prepared for something that we know nothing about. Fear is a powerful thing. Fear changes people. Fear takes away our hope.
When I got home, I tried to think of some way I could let go of that fear and give my family a glimmer of hope today….and maybe another small piece of hope with each day ahead of us. It was then I was reminded of a technique my dad taught me many years ago – writing a gratitude journal. He used to wake up each morning and write down 5 things he was thankful for in his life right then…no matter what situation he was in. Gratitude. That is my hope. I sat down John and the kids and told them they have until dinner time to think of what they are thankful for right now in the day we are in and they will have a chance to share the things they are grateful for with each of us later tonight. John and Neeley said they couldn’t wait; they were ready to share one now! Neeley quickly shared “I love that I have the ability to make healthy food each day. I feel so much better when I eat healthy.” John chimed in, “I appreciate my short commute, from the bedroom to the home office, each day which means I get extra time with you guys.”
Hope. Those short and sweet responses gave me a bit of hope today. I can’t wait to hear what else they share over dinner tonight. Here’s to letting go of the fear in our lives and replacing it with 5 things we are each thankful for regardless of all that lies ahead.
5 Things Jill is Thankful for Today
1. My kids are outside playing together – something I haven’t seen in a long time.
2. I have spent the past 4 nights with my husband and kids watching movies together.
3. I was able to get out to wilderness park to exercise with Neeley, while still practicing social isolation.
4. My kids medicine was refilled.
5. For the many people checking in on the Heilmans this week. We feel your love.
How about you – what are you grateful for during these crazy days?