It is hard for me to avoid reading or watching the news. Yes, I know that it’s not always the best thing for my sanity, and yet I can’t stop, or perhaps I just don’t want to. Maybe I think, magically, that if I stay on top of the flood of information, I will be prepared and safe. But, we are living in very worrisome times. If we are lucky, we can pay our bills and feed ourselves and the ones we love. If we are lucky, we have not suffered great losses and are managing to stay safe and healthy.
The events of this past year will leave a large swath of trauma in our families, our communities, and our country. Even though, as a social worker and therapist, I have had training in trauma and worked with families and communities through many of the crises we have had over the past 45 years, I still did a quick search for a definition of trauma. The first entry on my screen was: “ 1. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.” The example given was, “a personal trauma like the death of a child.” To the COPE community, I can only say, “YIKES!!”
Many of our COPE families came into this year of crisis and pandemic aggrieved, vulnerable and anxious. Some of us were already feeling we were living on the edge, raw fingertips keeping us holding on to the normal signposts of everyday life. We are all in a chronic state of stress, and this relentless weight of stress will leave its mark. And the normal connections that sustain us are limited or jeopardized. Quick cups of coffee with friends are too infrequent. Visits with loved ones take place with coats and gloves on, on benches in the back yard, if at all. My kids don’t want me to travel the hours of a drive or flight, worrying that I might get sick. I don’t want them to come visit with babies because I don’t want them to get sick. This limbo, even with hours of Zoom calls, is a challenge. We are all vulnerable, but for many in our COPE community, the weight just may be a bit heavier.
But I am who I am so I have to tell you something positive, in this case, my new favorite thing. My reading of periodicals is not limited to scary stories. Hidden below the headlines, way past the front page, is my new favorite thing: The New York Times Cooking section. A thousand recipes, the columnist tells me, are waiting for me. I have to pace myself, knowing that I have already read about 200. And I have even printed some, creating a special file that sits on the kitchen counter, each recipe awaiting its turn. I don’t know half the ingredients, and my old stomach is ridiculously picky, but each recipe is a promise and invitation. Come to my house for dinner and look what we can eat, my recipes say. Or, when we get together again, a new twist on your favorite dish will be on the table. Whether spicy meals with ingredients I have never tried, or practical soups that make good use of the potatoes and wilted kale I forgot I had, or vegan recipes that I will use to greet my kids, each one is worth the read. And I swear, I can smell their deliciousness each time I read them.
I hope that we can all still find some deliciousness in our lives.
Please stay safe and healthy.