Let The Fear In And Then Let It Go

A long time ago, on a beach far, far away

It’s 4:45 am and I have been awake for an hour and a half already. My busy mind has been debating the pros and cons of one last trip to the grocery store before sheltering in place with my family. A couple weeks ago, a planned grocery store trip would not cause this much consternation and sleeplessness. A couple weeks ago, on the heels of a CDC recommendation that we stock up, I visited Costco ahead of the rush with little concern. I didn’t hoard. I bought my usual items plus a few extra for good measure. I returned home feeling better, more secure somehow knowing I had done some preparation. Our cupboards were full. There was food in the freezer. A couple weeks ago, that seemed like enough. The unmitigated spread of this coronavirus seemed like a possibility. Now it’s reality.

It feels I have lived years since that Costco trip. I’m not a natural-born worrier, but as I watched the health crisis in Italy unfold and witnessed a locked-down Venice and an empty Piazza San Marco, I began to envision our future. And now, two weeks later, the future is here. And here I am, awake when I am normally asleep, weighing a trip to the grocery store as a risky proposition, wondering if boxes of Goldfish crackers and some eggs (if I can find any) are worth it. While at this moment there are only 131 confirmed cases of the virus in Colorado, I know from scientists that number may more likely hover around 1,300 cases, if not more. I know we need to flatten the curve, and I don’t want to do anything to work against that societal goal. Should I stay or should I go now?

Vulnerable and small sum up how I feel in this moment. The past few days have been a rollercoaster as I tried to strike a balance between being proactive and not overreacting. I acquiesced Saturday and allowed my son out for the day, knowing both that he should probably stay in and that this might be his last time to hang out with friends, his senior year likely preemptively ended. A couple times this last weekend I fell down on my self-made, silent promise to remain calm and appear brave. My sons now know I am concerned about our loved ones, about our health, about plans that should be rescheduled yet may never come to fruition, about the economy and our country and the whole world, and about the long-term changes we will face as a result of this pandemic. I’ve tipped my hand, but maybe that’s okay. Maybe they need to know that this is serious and that it’s okay and normal to feel concerned and overwhelmed. They didn’t experience 9/11, so they didn’t watch as the towers fell the way their mother grow instantly smaller like Alice in Wonderland only to grow large again in the months following. They don’t know, as I do, that this is how this works. There is fear and uncertainty and then there is a slow climb back to normalcy, whatever that new normalcy looks like.

The sun is rising now. I think I will make that last trip to the store and then work hard not to touch my face before returning home and scrubbing up like a surgeon again. Then I will stay home. I will spend weeks pulling things from the bag of tricks 18 years of motherhood have gifted me. I will create meals out of whatever is left in the fridge. I will make life in our home feel comfortable by chiding my sons to put their clothes in the hamper and turn down their vocal volume. I will listen to my youngest sing and share stories and I will watch the umpteen You Tube videos about French Canada and the Ottoman Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt my other son wants to share with me. I will beg them to take walks with me, and I will annoy them by playing the drums and setting up shop at our only table with puzzles that will leave us eating in front of the television. I will try to be patient and brave and I will fail. I will show them that you get through tough situations one minute at a time by occasionally losing your shit. But I will rise, one way or another. Maybe, like today, a bit earlier than I expected.


  1. Well said, Justine. I share your concerns about going out in the community. We are staying home; Carole is a member of two at-risk groups. So we are taking extra precautions. Freezer is full, pantry has lots of food, Carole bought lettuce seeds to see if we can supplement with home-grown food. Keep posting how you and your extended family are doing.

  2. Not that you need assurance from anyone, but you’re doing great. If you need food, don’t feel guilty for going to get it, we just need to be smart about it and limit our trips. Be sure to just leave some for others and definitely scrub up when you get home like you said. You got this. We’re all in this together.

    1. Thanks! I’m pretty good about not hoarding like others do, but it is a good reminder for us all to consider others as we go through this.

  3. Perfectly said. I have been pondering a post about our crazy scary lives right now, but haven’t quite had the words. You have hit the nail on the head.
    Yesterday our office sent us all home to work remote. I’m thankful I still have a job and can still work, but that decision suddenly made this all more real and scary to me. I found myself near tears a few times.
    My home-from-college-for-who-knows-how-long son went with me for one “last” trip to the grocery store, and seeing it all through his remarkably calm eyes, those of a young human who is growing up in an altered world, actually made me feel better yet even more wanted to wrap him in bubble wrap and keep him forever safe.
    We have to have faith that this too shall pass.

    1. Your comment brought me to tears. You are right. It’s overwhelming and, in some ways, watching our children navigate this makes it more overwhelming still. I have faith, though, that if we are doing our best to stay safe and healthy and keep others that way as well and if we use our time home wisely, we will come out of this more sober perhaps, but wiser and more grateful as well.

  4. Bravery is not defined as any supernatural lack of fear.
    Bravery is continuing on, forging ahead, doing whatever it takes in spite of the fear.

    And you are one brave butterfly, Justine.



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