Stranger Days #51: What Comes Next...

A chalk board with scrabble tiles that spell out "Stranger Days."
Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I started this series back in March when it was unclear when things would return to normal and well, what will that normal even look like.  Can we return to normal?  That thought harkens the famous like “Normal" is just a setting on your dryer.” byPatsy Clairmont. 

There really wasn't any "normal" per see before.  Because, after all, people were suffering much before this all happened and all it took was a virus that doesn't even kill most people to through most of us into turmoil without any foreseeable end.  I mean, if capitalism is as successful as they claim for everyone, then I'm not quite sure how is it that we have over 36 million unemployed in the US, significant cracks in the food supply chain, and massive amounts of food and animal life being destroyed instead of eaten.

Is normal returning to a system that structured the world in such a way for those things to happen?  Because it's not a fluke that these things happen because of the pandemic. It's a failure of capitalism to be resilient to emergencies.  After all, it's not capitalism that is saving us right now, it's governments, scientists, and people who typically work in the nonprofit sector.

Still, I'm thinking about normality today because there's one thing about the previous way of life that I'm grappling with today: death.  A dear friend of mine text me recently and shared that her father died.  He died in his sleep and they believe it was non-COVID-19 related. He was elderly, so not surprising that it happened but surprising when it happened as so many deaths are.  

I have had a handful of interactions with my friend's dad. He was always nice and a character.  So much of what I learned about him was vicariously through my friend as she navigated her relationship with him over the decades.  

But I got the text from her about his passing and it's one of the definitive times, I wish things were normal, because I wanted nothing more than to get into my car and drive to her house and give her a hug and find out the ways I could help her.  And so I was angry at the current situation because it denied me an opportunity to be there for my friend, who has been there and a part of my life for decades through the big and the small, the momentous and the heart-breaking.  

It also had me thinking about how will death will be felt for the living both now and in the future.  How long will it be before crowding together will be acceptable (and comfortable) by people?  And during that time, how many people will die to which we will be unable to fully be there for one another?  I wonder about the long-term impact of death happening and not having an opportunity to collectively acknowledge and sit with it.  I know that it was incredibly powerful for me and my family to all be there during the passing but also to have a celebration of life for my father after he passed. It gave closure and also allowed us to reform the bonds with our family, our friends, and my father.  

And while I know that not everybody has the opportunity to come together even in the normal space, I still think this current situation may lead us to feel even more disconnected from death (something that seems to be embraced by our youth-appearing culture and something that I appreciated about the show Six Feet Under and how it leaned into sitting with death) or it could make us more appreciative in the ritual of passing.  

That is where my mind is thinking about today as I reflect on the pandemic and daily life.  

Take care. Be careful. Be care-filled.  Welcome to stranger days.

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