I never asked to be here.
I never asked for the lockdown, right as I was getting my act together. I never asked to have my tools taken away and to be left with a virtual facsimile. I never asked to lose the ground that I lost during that time.
I never asked to live in a time when my friends were forced to live without an income. I never asked to stand by helplessly, doing what little I could to prevent them from losing their dreams, their livelihood.
I never asked to raise a child in quarantine. I never asked to be tasked with creating a cocoon of safety within our apartment, while the future of our country, possibly the future of the world, seemed so uncertain.
I never asked to watch from afar as my friend’s husband spent a year on a ventilator before passing away. I never asked to listen to my friends as they helplessly watched their loved ones slip away.
I never asked to worry while the Covid virus attacked my brain. I never asked to be plagued with what-if’s after I exposed my parents during the winter freeze. I never asked to wonder why I recovered on a day when 1550 people lost their lives.
I could keep going on going. The Delta variant has caused me so much anger, so much sadness, and so much frustration. After seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we are forced back into the darkness.
For a long time, frustration was all I felt. Frustration with the people who refused to take it seriously. Frustrated with our leadership and the constant threat of lockdown. Frustrated with the lack of objective facts, so that I could make my own decisions.
One day I was angry that students were sent home from school to quarantine, because I know how much the pandemic has hurt their education. Then the next day I spoke with a young mother who was facing the possibility of losing her husband, and I was assuring her that we would look after their young child, emotionally. It was one of the many times I have cried at work this year.
And that conversation is also what led me to let go.
I can’t control what happens in Washington. I can’t control what happens in Austin.
I can’t control the policy decisions that are made about the pandemic. I don’t need to choose a side or form an opinion. That is not where my energy belongs.
In realizing this, my body and mind are finally able to relax.
There are many things I can do. I have strong resistance to the virus, after having it and being vaccinated. I am on the front lines, and that is where I belong.
School has always been an oasis of safety for our students and their families. When I first started teaching, at age 24, I was called into an emergency staff meeting to discuss a shooting that had taken place in the community, involving one of our students. We provided support, safety, and familiarity, which helped that student’s brother through an impossibly difficult time.
Since then, I have been in staff meetings where we discussed talking to students about Sandy Hook, hurricane Harvey, exploding factories, and the pandemic. I have sat in a hallway, singing “Old MacDonald,” while a tornado passed over our school.
I have sat through lockdown drills, assuring students that we will keep them safe.
And now our country is polarized, as never before. People are frustrated by their lack of control over the situation. People are fearing for their health against a novel virus. People are overwhelmed by the lack of factual information and feeling unsafe in the face of weak leadership.
I can provide their children with consistency and routine. I can do whatever I can to keep their children safe. I can show grace when people lose their temper, because I know it isn’t about me.
And I can listen. I can care. I can withhold judgement, regardless of their situation, because this is not something for me to judge.
We are here. I can accept that. No matter what led us to be here, we are here.
And the only way we are going to get through it, is by helping each other.