Remember that hug I was craving from my dad? Saturday morning, I had a dream that Dad was here and hugged me. Just like I remembered and longed for. I awoke lighter and in a much better mood than I had been in all week. I just felt…comforted. Throughout the rest of the long weekend, I tried to finish up projects at home or do a bit of cleaning that I had put off. It felt like something was changing and I felt more focused.
What I didn’t realize was that Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was about to begin. (I may not be Jewish, but I love the thought and feeling of a new year.) It’s also a new school year, which to me feels like a fresh start, even if I’m not the one going to school. And 12 weeks to the day from his heart attack, my husband went back to work today. As soon as I got home, I ran to his office to ask how the day went. “I thought I was going to die,” he said. I reminded him that was an extremely poor choice of words since he nearly did die the last time he went to work! But, all in all, it wasn’t a horrible day for him. Exhausting, yes, but not horrendous.
Our son started high school last week, too–a huge change for us all, but also a cleanish slate for him. Some of his friendships have become more intense recently and he’s just beginning to make new friends, too. He wants to join clubs and actually do things outside of the home and a screen! He’s maturing, yet like most teens, is emitting hormones and emotional outbursts. It’s wonderful and scary and it all makes me hug him a little tighter each day, trying to hold onto every single moment that he’s here.
It seems, though, that everything around me is changing. I see some of my friendships and relationships changing, and I see that in others’ relationships, too. People in my community have left their jobs for other places, better for them but worse for us. People in the town where I work are having to leave because the healthcare services they need are no longer in that community. Yet new residents are moving in to both towns where I live and work and they’re happy to be there. Here in Maine, most people are masking again, regardless of vaccination status. More and more people are getting the vaccine and more people are dying once again–the majority being unvaccinated.
Yet…we all just keep trying to live our lives, day by day. Change is hard. No matter if the changes you’re facing are “good” or “bad”, change is a stressor. Major life-event stressors include marriage, moving, having a child–all good things, yet other life-event stressors are divorce, death of a loved one and job loss. Big changes are difficult, and no one ever put a pandemic on the list. I think it’s caused such a range of stress and emotion in each person, and continues to do so.
Maybe for some people it means they’re just done with certain humans on the planet. They can no longer hear what they have to say, nor do they care. And honestly, I think that’s ok if they’re not outright hurting those humans. It is their choice to be around people whose ideas are like their own, who stand for what they stand for.
But…I don’t think I can do that. If you know me and my husband, you know that I can’t do that. I live with and love a person with polar opposite views than mine on so, so many issues. And to be honest, if we had met when I was 30 instead of 22, we probably would never have married. I was open to new thoughts and opinions in my 20s, but now?
Yes, it’s difficult.
But the value of a human being is not just from their political or religious affiliation. We are made up of so much more than our views on an issue or a hot button topic. We are made up of acts of love and kindness–paying for that coffee for the person in line behind you or stopping to lend a hand to a child that fell of her bike. We’re made of shared moments like holding someone’s hand in a hospital waiting room or listening to stories of your mother from her friends and family after she’s left this earth or even that second when you catch someone’s eye and smile and you both know that you’re ok, at least for the moment.
I know I can’t convince you all (or any) to reach out and talk to someone tomorrow whose opinions you don’t agree with or understand. It’s ok. You don’t have to. But I do ask that you try and understand those of us that love others with differing points of view.
Or…don’t. I’d like to change your mind. I’d like you to think that there are more people out there with commonalities than differences. More good than not. But I don’t know what the right words are.