Shortly after my father died, back in December of 2019, my brother purchased grief journals for my sisters and I, and our mother.
My journal is pink (he knows me well) and quotes Matthew 19:26 on the cover.
To be honest I haven’t used the journal much. In fact, before the recent turn of events, of living in Corona-time or Quarantime, I had only written in it once. Not because I wasn’t grieving -no I have grieved plenty, I am grieving still – but because (and I only know this looking back) I was still moving rather fast. Work and travel and family were clicking along at rapid pace, and there was little room in there for stringing thoughts together, or for staring at a blank page until the words arrived at the tip of the pen.
But now things are different. The clipped-pace of life before Covid-19 has become a steady-if not-slow – crawl of predictability, laced heavily with uncertainty, and I found that I needed a way- other than on a keyboard- to write out my thoughts. To straighten out the jumble of emotions and feelings that living through a pandemic, isolated on a small farm with my almost-grown children and my husband, away from extended family, friends and colleagues, has wrought.
So, now I am using the journal. And sometimes what I write is specifically about grief and sometimes it is just a whole bunch of nothing. The record of the weather, or what we cooked, or what we were planning to cook. (We have a schedule of who cooks on which nights, and the greatest anticipation we have in our Groundhog-esque Days is what’s for dinner.)
At the top of each journal page there is a place to write the days date, but I have given up that task. I have no idea the date, so my entries begin in this way:
Sometime in April 2020.
I figure that if I die and someone desperately needs to figure out the exact day in April 2020 on which I wrote the words “everything is both simpler and more confusing” (deep thoughts by Jerusalem Greer) they can just look at the liturgical calendar from that year. It’s the best I can do given the circumstances.
Of course, things are both simpler and more confusing. Today I made a completely ridiculous Bingo Card about myself and I grieved my dad – wondering if his Easter – something he loved on earth – was as glorious in Heaven (or whatever is after this life) as he hoped it would be. Praying it was, even as unsure as I am about what comes next, when our bodies give out and our souls move on.
Today I am amazed at how beautiful and green the farm is, spring is one of the most magical seasons here, and I so desperately wish I was in an airport heading out to do my work as an Episcopal Evangelist.
In the past week, Holy Week was weird and sad, and Easter was lovely and fairly normal (minus the in-person church service.)
I don’t know what to say about all of this, or what to do (other than STAY HOME) but I do want to remain present to it all. I don’t want to pretend that living in a time when a mass unmarked grave is a normal thing, one that shouldn’t tear each of our hearts from our chest. And still each day the goats have to be fed, the trees continue to bloom, dinner needs to be made, and selfie bingo cards provide a moment of comedic relief.
This is where we are now.
Sometime in April 2020.
Simple and confusing.