I arrived back home from vacation to Hawaii last weekend. It’s a beautiful place, with perfect weather all day, every day. It’s a place that gave me a little hope in the midst of all this loss, and all of the dying that surrounds me.

Y’all I always try to be honest on my blog and in my life. I try to be honest with anyone that might read this and myself, because being honest with myself is sometimes the hardest thing. I’m in a spiral right now, and it’s not a good spiral. Anxiety about death has become a constant. COVid and losing so many of my regular patients has made mortality so real that I’m afraid a lot of the time. I’m afraid and I’m angry. I’m angry that we can’t seem to get out of this cycle that we’re in. I’m angry that my kids aren’t getting to have a normal childhood. I’m angry that I can’t go outside without putting on my mask and worrying that a casual outing to the grocery store will end up with me on a ventilator.

I think back to the 80’s when I was growing up, and it feels like another world. I grew up with a freedom that my kids don’t get to have. I ran free without a care in the world. My kids can’t do that. They can’t go to school and just play. They have to worry about masks and worry that their friends will get sick simply because they breathe the same air. I’m honest with my kids too. They know about the virus, and for my three-year-old it’s basically the only life she’s ever known.

So, back to Hawaii. My husband and I took a break. We are both vaccinated and we took a vacation to experience a little slice of paradise and break up the anxiety of everyday life around here. It gave me a chance to unwind a little and stop thinking constantly about things that are out of my control. I got to be me for a little while. Not me, the mom. Not me, the healthcare worker. Not me, the one who looks after everyone. I had the freedom to be myself and to read books that made me smile.

I read funny love stories and stories that were more than a bit on the erotic side. I read romantic comedies and books that made me laugh out loud. I had forgotten the simple hope that books can provide. I had forgotten the peace that surrounds me when I read a book that warms my heart.

I think I had forgotten how to hope. The opposite of despair is hope, and despair surrounds us constantly these days. I have to have hope that things will change, because if I don’t what kind of lesson am I teaching my kids? Am I teaching them to simply give up because everyone can’t agree? Am I teaching them that it’s okay to say people are being stupid so just let them go? I can’t give up. We can’t give up. Compassion and empathy are the only solutions to our problems, no matter how impossible that may seem.

I truly don’t hate anyone. There have been times in my life when I thought I did, but when it came down to it, hate wasn’t in me. My dad never wanted me to hate. He wanted me to empathize with those who might think differently than me. He wanted me to fight for that underdog and to lift them up with encouragement.

My dad gave up at the end, I think. I think he let go of any hope he had of having a happy life, and just wallowed in despair. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to live every day like it is only a prelude to death. I want to hope. I choose it. I hope you do too.

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe.

Love Always,