About two months ago, I wrote a blog about saying goodbye to the sport I loved after 13 years. I wrote about the loss of identity and the fruit that grew from walking away.
At that point in time, it was a grand adversity. And it still is. But it’s very much clouded now by a situation I could never foresee.
A lot can change in two months, can’t it?
Until three weeks ago, “Coronavirus” was not a word in my everyday vocabulary. I wasn’t washing my hands so often my knuckles were bleeding. I wasn’t “practicing social distancing.”
Three weeks ago, I was looking at Pinterest for quotes to put on my mortarboard. I was going to class every day. I was also going to work. I was hugging my friends.
And now? Everything, I mean everything, has changed.
I’m not entirely sure where this post is going to end up. Usually, I have a plan on where to end when I start writing. But, if I’m being honest, that feels impossible. I can’t do that in any part of my life right now.
I will acknowledge this: We are all struggling. I don’t want to take ownership of these feelings. I don’t want them at all. And I know we all feel that way right now.
I am also struggling to find the good in this. That is hard for me to admit, because I tend to be very optimistic.
I know the truth God gives us. And thank heavens it’s there for us. It’s honestly the only solid thing to hold onto right now.
Still, this is tough.
Over the past week, I’ve realized just how much I have to say goodbye to. Most of them earlier than expected.
Missouri State University
I am heartbroken for the high school and college seniors out there. I thought I still had time to properly say goodbye to MSU. When I bought an alumni sweatshirt the week before everything closed, I didn’t think wearing it would invoke tears quite yet.
But here we are. An extra week of spring break and online classes for the rest of the semester. Never again will I sit in a classroom at MSU. Never again will I print out a meme for my office wall. Never again will I stand on campus as a student and invite people to The Vine.
I was pushing those goodbyes away until after spring break. I wouldn’t let myself feel them, because I foolishly thought I had plenty of time to deal with it in my last two months.
All I wish for is to sit through one more lecture. One more workshop. To take one more trip to the vending machine in the basement of the Meyer Alumni Center.
What saying goodbye to MSU has taught me so far: Don’t take the everyday moments for granted.
I know this isn’t forever, but losing those last two months of college means telling friends “see you later” much sooner than expected.
I am grateful I got to spend a week on the beach with some dear friends before we came back to this strange new normal. I am grateful for group FaceTime and 3-way calls. I am grateful that the love of friends spans any distance, any time, any pandemic.
What saying goodbye to friends has taught me so far: Real love cannot be confined or quarantined. It finds a way.
Plans for the future
I texted Alyson and Kristina today about how surreal it feels to have every area of my life affected by this (again, I know I am not the only one. I don’t want this to sound like a sob story).
I was supposed to go to New York in May. Have a full-time job by June. I had plans for graduation and Easter celebrations, plans for a Vine spring formal, plans for almost everything.
Then, I didn’t. Then, those plans were gone in an instant. Taken by something completely out of my control.
And you know what Al and Tina reminded me? None of this was ever in my control.
And they are right.
I am doing my best to trust the plan I could never make. I am doing my best to remember this plan is good. This plan is made by a faithful God who holds us close and cares for us.
What saying goodbye to plans for the future has taught me so far: I was holding on too tight to my vision for what I wanted my life to look like, when I really never owned that vision.
Into the unknown
Did we all imagine Elsa’s bop from just a few months ago would be too real for us today? I didn’t.
It feels a bit like that clip of Paul Rudd from Hot Ones.
But, despite the unknown that lies ahead of us, I have faith that we will come out the other side more grateful.
More grateful for medicine. More grateful for sports, for concerts, and for day trips. More grateful for stocked shelves.
Even more grateful for the spaces we routinely gather: School, church, work, restaurants, meetings, exercise classes, our sidewalks.
The most grateful for the time we will spend in the presence of others. For laughter. For someone who will hold our hands and wipe our tears.
A few days ago I came across a quote from the late Robin Williams:
“You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the things you weren’t paying attention to.”
In this time of unknown, may we learn to pay attention.
May we learn to see.
May we learn to hope.