“In my heart there was a kind of fighting that would not let me sleep”. HAMLET

Tonight, my daughter said, “I”m not sad or mad or even frustrated anymore. I’m just empty.”

Empty? Gas tanks get empty. Milk gets empty. But us? We aren’t supposed to feel empty. Is it emptiness that wakes me up at night?

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know how to make her feel less empty. I don’t know if/when life will return. I don’t know anything. It’s 3 in the morning, the 2021 summer solstice, 15 months after first hearing the words “shut down”, and I still don’t know.

What I do know is that the one thing we all have in common is fear. My fear isn’t the same as yours or yours mine. But we are all scared. Covid has made us scared.

I’m not scared of the virus. There are two sides to this – the getting and the sharing. If I get it, I get it. I might get cancer or bronchitis or syphilis. If so, I will do what I need to do. I will heal or I won’t.

As a sharer, pre vaccination, I wore my mask. I distanced. I washed my hands (who doesn’t? Gross!). Post vaccination, I still wash my hands. I don’t give impromptu hugs (when I remember). I feel like I’ve done what I can in this new viral world. Oh…I also taught. I went to school because it was my job and my duty and what I needed to do.

No, my fear isn’t the virus as yours may be, so please only take this for what it is – a commentary on fear. If your fear is the virus – the getting or the sharing – I respect your fear. I hope you can find a balance for your fear like I’m trying to find for mine…

…my fear is the loss of hope.

I once had a literature professor say to me, “Don’t come into my classroom to learn how to be a writer, come into my classroom to be a reader. But if you have to be a writer, write something that you are afraid to write because then it might be worth reading.” He was a curmudgeon and smelled of tobacco and sweat but I never missed his class. And I never forgot his message – so here goes…

I’m afraid that my children’s rudders have been severed beyond repair…that they have had too many things (their “inalienable rights”) stripped away.

I’m afraid that collectively we will not be able to move forward because we feel the need to either stand on a precipice and shout our differences, or because we are controlled by the media, and dare I say, Dr. Fauci. (Once upon a time, I didn’t even know there was a National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases…)

I’m afraid for the world economy – of lives and currency.

I’m afraid that we live in a world where the biggest thing we fear is death – and if that is our biggest fear – do we not have faith in anything beyond, or larger than, ourselves?

I’m afraid that we seem unable to think for ourselves and require commercials to tell us to wash our hands.

I’m afraid of feeling empty for much longer because I’m not sure my heart or my liver can take it.

This is my pandemic story. I have to find hope for each of these fears so that I can place my fear on one side of the scale, and my hope on the other. Otherwise, the virus wins.

I don’t think it’s my estrogen insufficiency (always a possibility), or being entirely empty that wakes me up. I think it’s the imbalance of my fear vs. my hope.

I need to work on my hope because the virus can’t win. It simply can’t.