My days are filled with alternating thoughts: one is that we’ll be fine and get through this pandemic. The other is fear, fed through a steady stream of statistics and social media posts. That isn’t quite right though. There’s a third line of thinking that is worse for me. That I cannot fix this.
Any of it. It’s not a matter of control for me, more that I want to protect my family and allay their worries. To be the one they can look to and hear me say “It’s going to be alright” and know that I mean it. Uncertainty has rendered that assurance a lie.
We can only follow the guidelines set by those who know how to minimize the spread of this virus. And so we do. We wash our hand steadfastly. We have only ventured out of our house and off our property twice in two weeks, both to get groceries. I make those trips alone. Not because I’m any sort of hero, but because I can handle the anxiety of being in environments where it’s more likely to become infected slightly better than my wife can. In an odd way that gives me comfort. I can absorb her tension over some small aspect of this outbreak and ensure we have food for another week.
At first blush, this would seem like a sort of masculine act, rife with patriarchal need to provide. Perhaps there is sliver of that, but what I want to provide is less physical and more mental. Stability amongst the madness; less for them to worry over. A place where they need not fret.
That’s an impossibility in these times. Information crashes upon us in wireless waves, ceaseless as the ocean. Yet another way in which I can’t ease the minds of those I love.
My accustomed role as a fixer is one I’ve not really failed at before, at least not on this scale. There have been stumbles and mistakes on my part, for certain, but I’ve always made up for them in some way. While this failure is not one of my making, I still feel it in my bones as coming up short in the grandest way. My wife does not see it in this fashion at all. My mind, however, can’t allow me to accept her view. I want to. Goodness, do I want to. Processes long establish in my thoughts that I have been unable to circumvent in all my years forbid her logic, which furthers the assurance of my lacking. It’s a wicked cycle. One I’m aware of but cannot break.
So I will continue to do what I can. Wash my hands. Hold hers. Tell everyone I love them. Take on the worry and fear when possible.
We’ll get through this. I can’t fix this, but I can hope. That has to be enough.
Photo credit:Krishna Mali