The noise I heard this morning around 5:30 a.m. turned out to be a fatal shooting in our back laneway where a 30 year old woman crashed her car into a fence and succumbed to gunshot wounds. It appears to be a targeted shooting.
This is the day after my sister’s mother-in-law passed away in hospital in the early morning and my sister-in-law’s mother died of covid later the same day. I also learned that evening of a woman in my mother’s complex dying and her daughter passing within the week. We knew the family well.
This follows my sister’s ex’s father, a close friend of the family, passing in hospital last week and another good friend of my mother’s passing the week before, as well as four people we know who have succumbed to covid in the past month.
These Manitoba families faced severe hospital visiting restrictions, funeral restrictions and a total ban on family gatherings during this extremely painful time of loss.
Surviving the pandemic has definitely taken on a new meaning.
Our snow globe broke this week and I was out looking for a replacement and saw this interesting ‘do it yourself’ idea.
Now that I look at the photo I realize the globe has a church, which somehow seems significant. This Christmas I’ve wanted to get a T-shirt that says, “Don’t hate my holiday and I won’t hate yours.”
Has anybody been getting Christmas hate? Last year I was stunned when I was at Michaels and saw a nativity scene where someone had replaced baby Jesus with a pig. My husband tried to explain it away. It was probably kids goofing off. It could also have been staff, I said. The little plastic pig was in a separate department away from the display, so how did those responsible come up with the idea, was my question? It wasn’t just, “Oh, here’s a pig, let’s take baby Jesus out and put it in there.” They had to walk to another area and get the pig.
My girlfriend and I performed Christmas music at seniors’ homes a few years back and mostly we were very well received but there was one location where the coordinator was angry with us for coming to play Christmas music in December during their “Happy Hour.” Some residents wouldn’t come, she told us, even though this had been set up in advance as a Christmas special. She clearly let us know how inappropriate this was.
I grew up in a time when Christmas was a “hallowed” season. Each year schools and churches would re-enact the nativity or have a similar, uplifting play or program that always referenced the birth of Christ.
The truth is I don’t really like Christmas today without the sacred focus. The songs grate on me when I hear them played over and over again in stores that set out their displays way to early. Watching Hallmark movies where people dance to “Silent Night, Holy Night”??? And have you tried finding a Christmas card with any message related to Christ, lately? Impossible.
For awhile I immersed myself in the Hallmark version of the “spirit of Christmas” where the focus is on good things like love and generosity. There is merit to this, but in the end it still rings hollow for me, a season reduced to tinsel and activity and commerce, with a nod to family. Christmas, of all seasons, is about worship–come and worship Christ the King. Without worship, life is empty and void of meaning.
Do you ever feel like your nerves are a bit raw? Well, that’s how I feel. I try and ignore it as I put up more lights in the hope of adding brightness and joy to my part of the world.
But my nerves feel on edge. This past week my mother was hospitalized for Covid-19. The hospital was full and her bed was needed so she was sent home the next day. She had fluid in her lungs and could barely walk, she was so weak. There is a very serious outbreak in her area of Manitoba. People don’t believe the virus is a real thing to be concerned about. It looks like the medical system is collapsing. Nurses did not have time to check on her when we called to ask how she was doing. I admit I was relieved that she could go home.
My sister who cares for my mother was diagnosed with Covid-19 first and she thought she got it from my mother who probably contracted it at the lab where she goes weekly for tests. My sister said it was way worse than any flu she had ever had. She isolated in the basement of her house and is recovering now.
A family member has been checking up daily on my mother. We are aware of the risk, but we cannot leave her uncared for.
At my husband’s parents’ assisted living residence there is a total lockdown, starting this week, because of an outbreak. My father-in-law walks 35 minutes every day, down the halls or outside, weather permitting. He had open heart surgery and he does this for his health but he’s not allowed to walk now.
What I find heartbreaking is that care homes are not getting any better at meeting the needs of their clients more than eight months after the first lockdowns.
And in the middle of this we have the slow motion drama of U.S. election results. Biden talking about healing feels to me like an abuser talking about healing to his victim. After all, it was his party that called Trump voters the “deplorables” and worse. It was his party that spent four years invalidating the Trump administration. It was his party that controlled the media narrative the whole time. And his party is currently talking about reforming Trump voters. How do you heal that?
There is still a God in heaven. I remind myself.
Back to my mother, I’m extremely grateful that she is doing a little better this week.
The anti-dote to the distress we feel is to find beauty and be grateful and take note of the many small blessings we experience every day. I’ve been trying to do that.
I suspect that I may have had the virus, as I was sick for four weeks and now I still feel tightness in my chest, several weeks later. I could not endure the thought of waiting in line with a lot of other sick people for a covid test, so I just monitored myself at home. My husband was sick first but only for a week.
During the time I was sick my sisters took a road trip to visit me. When I told them I was not well, the morning of the day they were to arrive, they turned around and didn’t come. This is really not the time to be travelling and seeing family. Even though I was sad not to see them, I felt relieved.
I was getting better earlier that week, but I re-used my mask without washing it and I think I re-infected myself.
I’m trying to do all the right things to stay healthy and to keep my spirits up but there are difficult days. I find myself lacking in energy, which means I don’t get out as much to exercise. Exercise and movement are so key, as is cooking at least one good meal a day and getting quality sleep. When one area falters there is often a ripple effect. I just tell myself to do my best. Tomorrow will be different.
I mentioned the church at the outset. How is our faith influencing our covid response? I, for one, am praying. I am trying to be supportive of others who are struggling. I am holding on to my firm belief in the goodness of God. However, there is a flip side I am only too aware of. God does not smile on evil and injustice. The pandemic could be a sign of his displeasure. One religious leader has said that if this is so, then there is more to come.
I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs and am impressed by these words, “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.” We need to see more wise leaders in this world.
Rex Murphy writes today: Governments have caused us to lose faith in our pandemic response, “…the inconsistent messaging, the exceptions granted to certain activities and the disparity of its impact on private sector workers compared to those in the public sector have broken the faith citizens had in our overall response. The common spirit that was present at the beginning of the crisis is not here now.”
Covid has magnified the importance of good leadership. The double standard of our leaders is one of the saddest things I’ve seen. Those advocating for lockdowns and penalties are found traveling and attending large gatherings and protests as though they are exempted from regulations. This does not feel like pulling together. In the absence of corporate leadership we will have to assume leadership as individuals.
The truth is that if it were not for the overwhelming of our health care system and the deaths of the vulnerable elderly, we could probably go about our lives as usual, save for the fact that it is now becoming apparent that there can be long term organ damage from covid among those who recover. None of us want to be super-spreaders. Every day nurses and doctors and care workers are falling ill. They don’t have the option of isolating. I read this week that the doctor in a small town who was “assigned” to be the covid doctor just contracted the virus. What happens then? Another doctor is “assigned”?
Is there a silver lining? The saying comes from a “sliver lining” around storm clouds, reassuring us that there is sunshine behind the clouds. I do believe good can and will come out of this.
This weekend we had a hectic and stressful time as we considered a home purchase. When the whole thing proved to be impossible I retreated into my small bubble.
I like the idea of a bubble.
I like the idea of my own personal space.
Here is how I define my own personal space, my bubble. It includes immediate family and a few close friends, and their welfare. It excludes media. This is where I retreat when I need a fresh perspective.
In my bubble there are three things I can control, for the most part. I can control my mind–my thoughts and the decisions I make. I can control my setting, which is my home, the place where I live. I can make my home as comfortable as I want. And, finally, I can control my body–what I do, where I go, what I eat.
That is about the extent of my control.
When I retreat into my small bubble, I do homebody things. I bake. I clean. I read. I watch relaxing watercolor painting videos. I listen to soothing music. I do a little piano playing. I watch the birds outside. And I think.
I happen to like to think. I like sorting things out in my mind.
Today I eliminated everything outside of my bubble and pretended I was starting from ground zero. I saw what was most important to me was right inside my bubble. And from there I began to consider if there was anything outside that I wanted, or needed, to attend to.
Whenever I watch the birds I think about the verse that talks about God surely caring for us, if he cares for the birds. Then I think about The Lord’s Prayer, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And that leads me to the thought of God’s will. What is his will? How do I determine his will? My most simplified answer is the answer Jesus gave his disciples, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself. This summed up the Ten Commandments, the Law.
But then I get into a difficult place. I ask myself, Does God speak? Does he speak to us today? Who is God? I firmly believe there was some form of great, unfathomable intelligence behind the design of this universe, a universe which we humans have only barely begun to understand. We are observers of what exists and from that we make our estimations and calculations and propose our theories and draw our conclusions. We build on the flawed knowledge passed on to us. We are so ignorant.
Does God speak? Has he spoken in the past? I believe he has. There have been prophetic messages that came to pass. Does he speak today? Many theologians think not. They say revelation ended after the writing of the New Testament portion of the Bible. This is something I don’t understand. I mean, how could God decide to suddenly stop speaking?
Well, enough getting out of my bubble. I’m heading back there now.
I began water-colour painting some years ago and above is one of my first paintings. Recently I’ve started painting in acrylics as well. My earlier article, From My Journal – We Want to Leave Our Mark, showcases some 8″x10″ attempts at acrylics. I tried to finish each one in one day, as a painting challenge.
This site is for sharing the more personal aspects of my life and I have another site devoted to my writing at tinafriesen.com. I just published an article on dealing with stress as a writer, entitled When You Face Resistance as a Writer. You may want to check it out.