I don’t have to get up so early these days.

The kids aren’t going to school and I’m loving the extra hour or so that I get to sleep.

It was my usual morning walk with the dog. I’ve been trying to get out even more than usual, blessed by living so close to nature that I can socially isolate and still walk.

I got to the edge of my neighborhood and I noticed the empty kindergarten, toys and playthings strewn aside, a ghost town, no little voices, no shrieking or singing, no murmur of little ones as they busy themselves with the earnest job of play.

I felt a wave of sadness go through me. And for the first time in these last ten days since the world came crashing down as we’ve been locked down, I realized that I am grieving.

And perhaps we are all grieving.

For the lives that are lost.

For the people who are suffering.

For the loved ones we are afraid for.

For the life we took for granted.

For the ease with which we went about our day.

And there is more. I think there is a grieving for the future we assumed would be. The norm that we never noticed yet expected.

One of my sons may not go back to school, it’s his final year and though he studies remotely and connects with his friends, he may not have a chance to say good bye to the school he loved and was his home from home for the last five years.

My niece may not get to graduate, she’ll have her degree, but she has been robbed of the last precious months of her university time.

And these seem small and almost insignificant compared to my cousin who lost his father to the virus last week, he and his mother now facing certain illness too. My other cousin who has been so ill and, his wife also sick, struggles to take care of his small children with a raging fever. Or my friend who’s partner has been battling the virus these last few weeks and is counting the precious moments now that she is home and recovering.

Yes, we are grieving.

We need to acknowledge it – to call it what it is.

And also to keep it in proportion. For there is lots to celebrate, lots to be grateful for.

It’s that fine balance between acknowledging and feeling the grief, and allowing ourselves to be soothed by perspective and gratitude.

I’m grateful for my health and the fresh air that is more plentiful now that our crazy pace of life has slowed down.

I’m grateful for my family and friends, for all the outreach that we are making to connect and share and listen.

I’m grateful for all the helpers, the medical staff and the food chain providers who are taken care of us, sometimes at great risk and great cost.

You know how there are certain stories that we tell for years and years… well, these are the days that will make the stories that we will tell for the rest of our lives.

And we have a choice as to how that story will go. We can choose to live in hope and possibility, to see the light, even when it’s only a sliver, to feel the gratitude and the grace for all that is good.

We are living in momentous, unprecedented times. We have the chance to hide away in fear and grief, or to step into courage and vulnerability. To share what hurts and to triumph through optimism and outreach.

What story will you tell?

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