With all that’s going on in the world right now with COVID-19, the expression “I wish you were here” carries more weight than ever before.
Over the past few months, we’ve all found ourselves saying, “I wish you were here to laugh with… to cry with… to have a drink with… to see my son… to share a meal… simply to hug. I wish we could just be together.”
So many of us are feeling that longing right now, missing close friends and family, or even saying goodbye to the ones not able to fight off the virus, as the world faces a global pandemic, lock-downs, and quarantines. Sixty days in, most of us are still trying to adjust to this “new normal” — a situation that day-by-day feels less and less new and more and more normal.
But for me, the expression “I wish you were here” and my feelings of loss are more permanent; they’ll stay that way for the rest of my life.
May 10 marked my sixth Mother’s Day without my mom. May 20 marked the sixth birthday she isn’t here for. She would be 66.
I’m 34 now, married with a 1.5-year-old, but when she passed, I was only 28 (good math, Zach), my wife and I were only dating, a wedding was still in the distance, and a child was definitely not on our radar. Just goes to show how much can change in a relatively short period of time (See: global pandemic).
This pandemic has forced essentially the entire world to confront the many facets of loss: the loss of loved ones, loss of ways of life, loss of rituals, loss of income, the loss of normalcy, and the loss of quality time with friends and family.
The Three Aspects of Life
Grief is definitely not linear, and there are components of my own grief journey that feel so relevant and important to the state we currently find ourselves in. Over the years, grief has helped me understand more than ever the three aspects of life: the emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Often so much emphasis is put on the physical aspects of life. The here and now, the feel and touch of tangible things and people. And it makes sense: It’s something right in front of you, you can feel it, hold it, hug it.
Think about how much COVID19 has shown us about the physical world. I think we all probably take it for granted on a daily basis, but the second we aren’t able to gather with friends and family, visit grandparents or parents in assisted living facilities, stand in line at our favorite coffee shop, hug a friend — heck, even stand in line at a grocery store — boy, we miss it like crazy.
But what I’ve been forced to rely on and derive value from, just like anyone else who has experienced loss and grief, as well as what the world faces right now, is the role of the emotional and spiritual aspects of life.
When it’s quiet (on the outside and on the inside), if I close my eyes and be still, I can hear my mom’s voice. I can hear her guiding input, her advice, her care, and feel her love. I can connect to her emotionally because she is so much a part of my life, my character, and the person I am today.
When I’m faced with a difficult or challenging decision, or when I am feeling emotional, when I slow down I can feel her presence in the highs and the lows. She was the constant wind at my back, constant support, and unconditional love, no matter what. And when it’s quiet, when I carve out the space, I can feel that wind pushing me forward.
As a family during quarantine, our big outings have often been to our backyard. (And I’m extremely grateful and appreciative of our first-ever house and yard that I know is a luxury not all people have). But when I’m out there, watching my young son play in the yard, and I sit back, and slow down enough to watch the wind and sun move and shine through the trees, I feel the spiritual connection to my mom more than ever.
I know she breathed the same air that I breathe, I know she saw the same sky, the same sun and moon shine down on me, and I know she was part of the same eco-system that I’m apart of — and that gives me immense comfort.
No matter how far a part we all feel, we are all connected.