To live and let live.

Learning to Fly art journal 2 page spread – mixed media

It is back. This need to check the data every day. To scan news headlines for what’s happening now in a world that seems hellbent on conflict and destruction.

It was gone for awhile, this need. I wanted it to stay away. Yet here it is again. Unbidden. Uninvited. Unwanted.

So I shift my approach to dealing with its presence. Instead of searching for data and world events, I read articles on post-pandemic life. I seek advice on how to step out into the world, without being riddled with anxiety and guilt, once critical mass on vaccinations is reached and restrictions can be safely lifted.

And then, I dip into one of my social media feeds and feel discouragement rising like the third-wave surge of sickness and death. How will we ever arrive at a post-pandemic world when there are those who believe wearing a mask is a sign of weakness? That following restrictions is sheep-like behaviour destined to transform one into a lemming falling over a cliff?

I turn off my social media feeds. I step back from the edge of the abyss where I feel myself getting pulled into the undertow of a debate that feeds my anxiety and drives me deeper into the data as if somehow, somewhere, some number will help make sense of it all and send this virus packing and stop this ‘us versus them’ debate.

One of my aunts, who lives in southern India, has only been out of her apartment once in over a year. She is tired. Anxious. Frustrated. Worried. When she phones, I can feel her loneliness ringing in my ears with every word she rattles off in her rapid-fire French about how limited her life has become through these months and months of Covid. “But what can I do?” she asks without waiting for an answer from me. “To stay alive I must stay at home but I am so lonely.”

Her two remaining siblings live in France as do the majority of her nieces and nephews. She cannot travel to visit any of us nor can we travel to visit her. “I have a dream to come and visit you one more time in Canada before I go,” she tells me. I tell her I want her dream to come true.

And so, together, we wait for the world to right itself. For vaccination counts to surpass the 75% mark. For sickness and death counts to plummet.

Three weeks ago my youngest daughter and her partner became statistics in the Covid case count. They are two of the over 146.8 million of the reported cases as of yesterday’s count. Fortunately, while they said they’d never felt so sick, they did not succumb to the virus as my cousin Linda did in Paris last spring. They have recovered and stayed on the life side of the ledger. Linda is one of the over 3.1 million who did not.

And here’s the thing. They are not ‘cases’ or a number on an ever-increasing count. They are my loved ones. Just as the other 146.6 million reported cases were someone else’s loved ones.

Which is why I will do whatever it takes to keep my loved ones safe. I will get vaccinated. I will wear a mask. Keep my distance. Stay sequestered with my beloved whose lungs, should he become infected, might not be able to withstand the viruses onslaught. We have only received the first vaccination and while the risk and severity are lowered, they still exist. .

And sure, there are those who would call me a sheep. Who would rally against my precautions in the name of their rights.

I get it.

Masks can be annoying. Keeping away from human contact challenging and depressing. There are still many unknowns. Still too much uncertainty and question marks and confusion over so many unknowns. And the unknown and uncertainty breeds anxiety. It feeds fear.

But certain things remain known. Masks work. Keeping safe physical distance works. Being vaccinated is a better safeguard than not being vaccinated.

The virus will not go away on its own. But if it can’t find enough hosts to keep replicating itself, it will eventually lose its grip and fade out. (I know that’s not a scientific explanation but it makes sense to me.)

Just as doing the right thing, whether I like it or not, makes sense to me too. It’s for the sake of myself, my loved ones and for all of us.

And in my world, doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

Which means, I must do the right thing for myself today. I must lovingly wean myself away from diving deep into statistics, into watching news feeds for world catastrophes and natural and manmade disasters, from scrolling social media feeds urging me to cherish my rights over the right to life of all humanity.

I cherish my right to life. I cherish the right to life of all human beings on this planet.

And so, I breathe and say a prayer for all humanity.

May we find a way to survive this latest surge without tearing our humanity apart.

May we find a way to honour one another, to show tolerance and grace in the face of adversity and differing views.

May we all remember we do not have a guidebook on how to behave during a pandemic. That we are all struggling with the knowns and unknowns. We all feel the fear and anxiety. We all feel the constraints.

And may we all remember, we all want to live in our own way.

May we all live to tell the story of our survival.

Namaste.

_________________________

This post was inspired by an article in the New York Times shared by David Kanigan at Live and Learn. Thanks David!

Learning to Fly – Attitudes and Actions

Yesterday, I promised to share my 20 Attitudes and Actions to help you make your dreams come true.

What I’m discovering as I keep working in my Learning to Fly art journal is that the Attitudes and Actions are fluid things — there’s no given order to doing them, though some are best to do early in the game — like No.s 19 & 20.

I’ve already planted my seed — parsley. It’s in a pot in which I’ve been nursing a bunch of Basil throughout the winter. I love the symbolism of nursing a difficult to grow (in this clime) indoors plant, like Basil, which I’ve kept alive now since last summer with the new growth intermingled.

Doing my “Acceptance Speech” is something I learned from my eldest daughter when she was a little girl and continually practiced her Academy Award’s speech. Gratitude was at the top of her list when accepting her award.

An attitude of gratitude is vital. Along with courage it underpins everything. Employ it often. Feed it love and appreciation. Live it daily.

_______________________

I worked on the next spread in my journal yesterday — after my vaccination! I was soooo excited about getting my vaccination I got there two hours early (I had written the time down wrong when I’d phoned to make our appointments.) Fortunately, they didn’t insist I go home and come back — and C.C. could use my appointment which was earlier than his! So much gratitude! For the pharmacists and everyone at the pharmacy organizing and administering the vaccines. The researchers and scientists developing the vaccines. The manufacturers and government ensuring we have access to such life-giving/life-saving elements. The people all around me who are following the guidelines and taking good care of themselves and all of us with every action they take to curb the spread.

My worktable

When I got home, I went into the study to tidy it up — it can get real messy when I’m immersed in a project – and instead of tidying up, I fell into the muse’s embrace and created.

“Even birds must step out on a limb to test their wings. Go out on a limb and test your dreams.”

Learning to fly

Learning to Fly

I love heights. I know. I know. There are many who don’t. But I do.

I love to stand high above looking out and over the world. Buildings. Mountains. Even on the bridge looking into the river below. The higher. The better.

And here’s the deal. My challenge is, when I am standing on high, I truly believe I can fly. That I can just open my arms wide, release myself to gravity’s thrall and leap.

It’s not that I believe I have wings waiting to unfurl, it’s more a feeling that somehow, through alchemy and magic, my body will be transformed into a beautiful, light as air, ‘thing’ of majestic, airborne wonder.

I didn’t say it made sense. I only said I believe it’s true.

I have not tested my premise. Ever.

Though I have been tempted.

When I used to climb mountains it was always my challenge – to stay grounded at the edge of the peak and not let go and leap. Though there was one time on a descent that began with a 2ft wide ridge walk with a 3,000 ft drop straight down on one side and about a 1,000-foot drop on the other. That day, about halfway to the point where we would be rappelling down the mountainside, I wished there was a helicopter that would come and pick me up so I wouldn’t have to leap a one-foot gap in the rock and land four feet below.

Fear made me forget I could fly or even jump as if it was a gap in the sidewalk. I had to let go of my fear

Which is the impetus for the art journal I’m creating, Learning to Fly.

In life, flying is not about heights or wings. It’s about overcoming fears that keep us tethered to our comfort zones, to dreamless-sleep-walking through our days and spiritless wanderings through time, feeding ourselves on inertia.

I have some big dreams. Had them for awhile. And still, I hesitate. I act on them. One tentative step at a time. And then, I hesitate. Holding back. Jerking forward.

No one is holding me back. Except me.

So…. I decided to focus on the things I can do, need to do, must do to unfurl my dreams.

The “Learning to Fly” art journal is my Declaration of Independence. My Magna Carta. My Holy Grail of Getting Sh*t Done.

So…. here we go….

_______________________

About the Journal:

Using various papers from watercolour to mixed media to newsprint and scraps from junk mail, I gessoed and painted backgrounds to create a 40-page journal with cover. I then bound it all together into a book. (Below is a 19 second flip through of the painted and bound journal before I painted the cover and the first 4 spreads)

As well, I’ve created a list of 20 ‘actions and attitudes’ on the theme of “Learning to Fly”. For each one, I’m writing a one-line quote and using that action or attitude as the inspiration for the spread.

Over the past few days, I painted the cover (birds in a tree in gold), the title page and worked on the first 4 spreads:

  1. Take the longview. Even a bird needs time to grow into its wings.
  2. It’s a long and winding road. Every step makes a difference. Keep going.
  3. Wherever you grow, let your heart grow wild and free.
  4. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

Colour me excited, but I feel the energy flowing, I feel my heart pounding as I work on this journal.

And, as I step through each of the 20 Action and Attitude steps I’ve created, I feel myself expanding my wings.

I won’t be jumping off mountain tops but I will be diving into making dreams come true and soaring on the wings of creative expression!

I hope you join me on the journey — I’ll be sharing my 20 Actions and Attitudes tomororw.

Today… I’ve got a dream come true to fulfill. C.C. and I are getting our first vaccinations. I’m trying not to make it a ‘big deal’.

But… it is! 🙂

The Only Mask I Need

I am meditating on the question, “What has this time of Covid and its slivers and shivers of fear running through every thought, action, moment have to teach me?”

My facile mind wants to answer, “I don’t know.”

The wise woman within asks, “If you did know what would you know?”

I know that at the beginning of Covid’s restrictions, when people said, “Be safe” I’d wonder, what on earth does safety have to do with these times? Be well. Be healthy. Take care. Those make sense to me. But safety?

I wear my arrogance like a mask as if donning it will keep me safe from feeling afraid.

Over the past year of sequestered solitude, of spending time exploring grief and loss, silence and solitude, I’ve learned that safety isn’t about just the physicality of my life. It’s the whole shebanga. It’s feeling safe in my heart, my body, my mind, my spirit. It’s all of me and trusting that ‘all of me’ to be enough to keep me safe from self-harm as well as external danger.

At the beginning, I thought saying, ‘be safe’ was just instilling fear into everyone’s minds. I thought wearing a mask would make me look foolish.

Yet there I was, wearing masks of my own hubris, separating me from feeling the fear that would allow me to recognize the truth.

I needed fear to ensure I did the right things during this time. I needed that fear to compel me and inspire me to take actions to safeguard my health as well as my beloved’s and the health and well-being of those I love and care for. My family, friends, community.

Fear, in the time of Covid, is a great motivator. It doesn’t immobilize me. It mobilizes me to take right actions.

I am freefall writing and smiling as I write.

The gift of freefall writing is its capacity to allow the words to flow out my fingertips without engaging my mind in their creation.

It is a process rife with uncertainty.

Uncertainty is good for my soul. My hubris. It brings me back to the centre of who I am when I let go of wearing the masks of attitudes that do not serve me.

I used arrogance as my protection. It did not serve me well.

Arrogance is not a great dance partner. It assumes it knows better, can do better and create better than those who are doing the hard work of doing and creating better.

I want to stop and go back and edit. I know that’s just fear talking.

Will I be revealing too much if I let this post stand as written? Will I look… foolish?

Ah yes. The fear of looking foolish.

Such an inhibitor. Such a waste of energy, time, life.

Looking foolish is good for me. It keeps me playing in the field of possibility. It keeps me testing boundaries, pushing myself outside my comfort zone, moving beyond the edges of what I tell myself I know, into the bottomless mystery of all I don’t know about myself, the world around me, life itself.

I am freefall writing and letting my words stand as what has appeared in this moment.

I am awakening uncertainty to claim my right to be, Me.

And I am letting go of the masks I wear that I tell myself will keep me safe.

The only mask I need to feel safe and be safe in this world today is the one that protects me and the world around me from Covid’s sinister reach.

Namaste.

When the blues get you down – Create your own sunshine

Spring Dreams – mixed media on 10″ x 10″ x 2″ birch board panel

As Covid restrictions stretch into February and vaccination timelines stretch even further out, I find myself drifting between feeling weary and resigned and wanting it all to just go away so I can ‘get on with life’.

Life is what happens to you while you‘re busy making other plans”.

That line, used by John Lennon in his 1980’s hit, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) originally appeared in 1957 in Reader’s Digest as a quote written by Allen Saunders.

It is true today as much as it was back then.

No one on this planet planned for a global panedmic to disrupt our daily lives for a year, and more. Okay. Well maybe some scientists and world health folk and disaster planners did. But for the majority of us, we planned on life as normal.

And then… this all happened and now, I’m planning on not planning as I wait….

In the waiting, there are moments when all I want to do is stay in the weary. To simply sink beneath the weight of this winter cold snap by curling up under a blanket and not coming out again until ‘it’s all over.’

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle. Daily necessities. Living with my beloved. Family and friends. They all play a role in helping me find grace in the wearies and hope in the possibilities of this moment right now leading to one day, soon…

And when none of that works, when I still struggle to lift my head off the pillow and greet the morning with a smile and a grateful, ‘Good Morning World!’ I know it’s time to ‘create my own sunshine.’

Now, I know that sounds trite. And I know there’s a space inside that wants to yell “No Way! It’s not that easy! And that won’t work anyway. Look at the world. It’s a mess and I’m just going to be a mess with it and nothing and no one can tell me otherwise and I know I should do something about this dark space but seriously this dark space is comforting and what can I do it’s all such a mess and I’m so confused and I have no idea what to do and I’m so tired of having to pick myself up again and again and I just want to keep falling down but I don’t know where the bottom is and what if I fall and can’t get up and what if I get up and just fall back down and what if the blues are the only place I’m safe and what if….”

The mind can be a busy place when the weight of this weary world settles in for a nice, long winter’s nap.

Except, there’s not much that’s nice nor ‘nap-like’ when the weight of the world is settled in.

Which is when I head to my studio, or my journal page or outdoors for a walk (yes. even in the frigid, seriously cold temps we’re experiencing right now).

Doing something that gets my blood flowing, my energy moving and my creative juices going is good for whatever ails me – including the blues. (and especially in those times when I tell myself it just won’t work or it’s too much bother!)

Yesterday, in that space where missing those I love felt like a clingy, wet blanket of doom, I knew I had to create my own sunshine within my heart so that ‘the missing’ didn’t become the reason why I didn’t have to do anything other than let my moodiness carry me to the sofa as I drifted through a day of mindless social media scanning and Netflix binging.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the occasional day of doing little other than curling up on the sofa is a lovely antidote to these times in which we find ourselves.

I also know, that for me, one day can slip into two, then three and on and on until I believe doing the sofa curl-up under a dark blanket of gloom is the best thing for me.

Which is why yesterday, I challenged myself to doing something creative to create my own sunshine — like making a video to go with the Morning Dance Haiku I wrote earlier in the day. Creating and posting the poster for my Vision Board Workshop. Creating a new piece for the art show I’m in this June. Turning up on a Zoom call with my writing circle (that little voice inside was niggling at me to not turn up!). Taking an extra-long afternoon walk with Beaumont.

This morning, I feel lighter again. No. The pandemic hasn’t disappeared and the world hasn’t suddenly righted itself, but I feel the hope. I feel the light. I feel the possibilities.

And yes, I still miss seeing and being with the one’s I love. I still miss inviting people into our home and going for dinners in restaurants with friends.

But the missing isn’t a heavy cloud of gloom. It is a reality of what I need to do to create a safe space for my beloved and I and all those I love to weather this storm so that one day… soon… we can all gather around a table and not miss faces of those we love because the darkness that consumed them is eternal.

The question is: What will you do to create sunshine in your world today?

I hope you share. Let’s inspire each other and shine a big light for all the world to see in the dark!

Love Will Hold Us Together

In the stillness of morning light, I breathe slowly, waiting for the sun to break through wintery skies.

There is a weariness in my bones. I feel the weight of missing precious moments spent with family and friends. A longing for days that feel lost in misty memories of the times long ago when we opened our front door and invited others in.

In the softness of morning light, there is a heaviness to this winter morning.  A knowing that today will be the same. Connections made on screens filled with tiny boxes of familiar faces who light up my heart and who once graced us with their presence around our table. My heart is light with the thought of their smiles yet heavy with the missing, Of touch. Of gathering together. Of hugs and farewell kisses grazing cheeks and a touch on the shoulder to say, “I see you. I hear you. I feel you.”

Yes. It is the feel of people gathering together. Of coming together to celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, reunions, and even a loved one’s passing, that I yearn for.

It is the knowing that today I am not with my 3-year-old grandson celebrating at a party just for him. My arms ache to hold his body next to mine and whisper, “I love you” in his ear. And to feel his sweet, precious breath against my ear as he whispers back, “I wuv you too YiaYa.”

It is the knowing that five months have passed since last I held my granddaughter in my arms and smelt her babyfresh head and kissed her tiny nose and tickled her tummy as she giggled and gurgled in squirming delight at my touch. Five months feels like a lifetime of change in a seven-month old’s world spent watching her grow on a tiny screen. She reaches for it when we talk. I like to think she is reaching for my heart. That she knows this heart she cannot touch except through a tiny screen is full of love pounding a fierce beat to the tune of her laughter and squeals and toothless smiles and sparkling eyes full of joy.

In the stillness of this winter’s morning light, I gently close the door on memories I yearn to feel come alive again. I breathe softly into this moment right now where I sit at my desk watching the river flow and the light slowly break through the darkness.

Clouds cover the sky. A blanket of grey above. A blanket of snow below. Misty. Ethereal. Mysterious light full of memory and longing on a wintery morning.

The sun is hidden yet still it shines. Eternal. Hot. Fiery.

Like my love for those I’m missing. For those not here because they can’t be and those because they never will be again. My love burns eternal.

In the stillness of morning light, I light a candle for those who are gone forever, and those whose absence is just a temporary moment in time passing until we can gather again, hold one another again and kiss one another on the cheek and whisper softly, “I love you”.

It is fleeting, this heaviness in my heart. It will pass. For now, I let my body rest easy in its embrace and warm myself on the memories I cherish and the knowing that soon, I’ll see their faces in tiny boxes on my screen and know, no matter the distance nor the times that separate us, Love will always beat fierce and strong in our hearts. Love will always hold us together.

All That Remains

We are six women in our writing circle every Wednesday evening. Five American. One Canadian. Me. Yesterday, at the end of our hour and a half together, we spoke of these times and all they’ve brought, and all they’ve taken away.

The losses feel almost incomprehensible. As one of the women said last night, with over 350,000 deaths in the US and the numbers climbing, it is numbing.

It is. Yet, we cannot let it be. Numbing. For these are lives lived that are no more. Mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters. Family members and friends. They may be strangers to me, but to someone their loss leaves an empty place that can never be filled.

As Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and I walked this morning in the brilliant sunshine, as we listened to the river crowding through the narrowing channels where ice is beginning to block its path, as I sipped my coffee at my desk and watched the squirrels play their constant game of tag along naked branches of the trees, I wondered how do you fill those empty places when the one who once was there is gone forever?

It feels fitting that as 2020 draws to its close and the calendar turns not just a page or month but into an entirely new year, that I spend some time reflecting upon those who will not be stepping into the new year.

And so, I offer this poem.

2021. High On Expectations

Bookmarks — alcohol inks on yupo paper

I originally titled this post – 2020! Need I say more?

But then I wondered… what if it’s not about 2020 anymore? (Which btw it isn’t when I look at the calendar)

What if it’s all about 2021? We (as in the entire planet) sure are expecting a lot from it.

How will it ever live up to our expectations? Especially, if as the saying goes, “Expectations are premeditated disappointments.”

Which got me thinking that perhaps the best thing I can do is to stay out of the field of expectations and instead, water the seeds of Love growing in the garden of my heart.

That garden is the one I must tend to, no matter the season, the times, the weather, the state of the world around me. No matter if Covid beats a hasty retreat and we are free to embrace one another again without fearing the worst, the state of the garden of Love in my heart keeps me rooted in grace and gratitude. It opens me up and brings me into the beauty of this moment in which I find myself breathing freely.

May the garden of your heart be full of beauty growing wild and free in all the colours of the rainbow. May you awaken to Love blossoming with every breath you take.

Christmas. Unplugged.

I am standing in the middle of the pedestrian bridge that spans the river connecting the east and west end of the city, just before the rolling plains leading to the foothills and the Rockies begin.

I can see where I was standing as I sit at my desk now.

It is early. The sky a grey covered cloudy blanket full of misty, snow-filled moisture.

The world is quiet. Calm. Serene.

There is no traffic on the separate vehicle bridge on the far side of the one on which I stand. No sign of pedestrians on this one either other than one bicycle track that had ploughed through the snow earlier than even my morning saunter.

I shake my head at the thought of someone riding their bike through the snow and am reminded of my friend J.H. who no matter the temperature or conditions, rides his bike everywhere. All year-round. We worked together for several years and some mornings when the wind was howling and the snow blowing, he would arrive at work looking like the Abominable Snowman. It never deterred him. It was one of the things he had to do to help save the planet, he said.

I helped save my sanity yesterday.

I unplugged. Mostly.

Other than FaceTime with my daughter and family, and a check in with La GrandeFamille in France and India via WhatsApp, I kept my online time to the bare minimum.

It was self-preservation. The Christmas blues lurked. Real close. And, without the excitement of preparing to receive family and friends for dinner, the slope into self-pity yawned before me with its alluring view into oblivion.

To keep myself from heeding its siren’s call, I kept myself out of the Christmas chatter that fills my Social Media feeds.

The messages are all so beautiful but yesterday, it kept reminding me of how different (and strange) this Christmas was.

I had awoken early. 4:30 am. At 5, when a girlfriend text to wish us Merry Christmas, I was still awake. I text back a few times and then lay in bed debating about getting up. At 6, my Auntie Maggy called from India. We laugh and chattered and when we hung up, I was wide-awake. I decided to get up.

I wandered through the house. Turned on Christmas lights and music. Bundled up and took Beamont the Sheepadoodle for an early morning wander.

The world was quiet. The sky midnight blue. The river flowed with its normal winter chatter. A Canada Goose honked somewhere in the dark.

The world was as it usually is early on a Christmas morning, though this was a very different kind of Christmas.

C.C. still made his Finnish pancakes but we packaged them up to deliver to his son and girlfriend who, because they live on her parents property would be having dinner in her family bubble.

We still cooked a turkey but instead of sharing it crowded around a table of family and friends, we packaged it up in the late afternoon and delivered it to my daughter’s for The Great Exchange between my daughter, sister and us.

Like soldiers in the trenches on Christmas Day of 1914 who carried out an unofficial truce and crossed the no-man’s land between them to exchange Christmas wishes and even gifts, we approached one another, holding out our packages like peace offerings in a time of war. Except our enemy is an invisible microbe that does not announce itself with guns blazing but slips in undetected until it’s too late to take up arms again.

After The Great Exchange, we drove to dear friends, stood at their front door and from a distance, wished them Merry Christmas and left behind a container full of turkey dinner and fixin’s to enjoy. When we returned home, I made up a heaping plate of turkey dinner and took it to a neighbour. Her husband has been ill. She wasn’t up to cooking a turkey dinner, she’d told me earlier in the day when I’d dropped off a Christmas card and ornament at their door.

And that’s where the Christmas Spirit prevailed. In the small acts of kindness we could share wholeheartedly with one another.

There are still gifts under the tree that haven’t been unwrapped. The roasting pan sits on the kitchen counter waiting to be put away. The dining room table is still set for two, a lonely reminder of the different circumstances of this Christmas. Like year’s past though, there are left-overs in the fridge. The pot of soup we started making last night sits on the deck chilling.

And through it all, woven like threads of gold in a tapestry lovingly crafted by the hands of the many lives that touch ours day in and day out, is the Love that binds us, sustains us, fills us up.

I unplugged from the virtual world yesterday to spend time savouring the magic all around me.

Just as the virus finds little room to create its havoc when we take loving measures to keep our distance, there was no room for the blues to take up residence in my heart. It was too full of the love and joy of the spirit of this season.

May the sacred nature and giving grace of the spirit of Christmas embrace you and your families. May the New Year bring all of us great joy, good health and the closeness that comes without Covid in our midst.

Namaste

In Years To Come…

In years to come, when time has passed and the edges of memory have softened and mellowed with age, we will sit close together around a table, or snuggle up in front of a fire or walk arm in arm under a clear blue sky and tell stories of these days. We’ll laugh and sometimes shed a tear or two. We’ll raise a toast to those who did not make it through and we will remember.

We’ll remember how we stood on balconies and front porches and clanged pots at 6pm every day for weeks on end to honour the heroes of these days. The nurses and doctors and lab techs and hospital porters and emergency responders and schedulers and cleaners and so many more who risked their lives so we could live ours without fearing each breath would be our last. And the researchers, labouring long days and nights, weeks and months garbed in hazmat suits and protective shields just to find a vaccine to help preserve lives for years to come.

We’’ll talk about how heroes didn’t wear red cloaks and carry golden shields but donned brown and blue and tan coats as they drove all over the country to ensure we received the things we needed. Things to eat. To read. To listen to. To play with. To keep us amused. And laughing. And feeling alive and less alone.

How there were heroes who stood behind plexiglass screens and sanitized counter tops again and again after we visited stores where we bought our necessities and smiled with only our eyes visible through our masks.

How we greeted each other with a wave, careful to keep our distance and how the distance between us felt so foreign. Lonely. Far. Even when we stood six feet apart.

How hugs became a rare commodity, so precious some would risk their lives just to get one. And how some did risk their lives, not just for hugs but to ease the loneliness, the pain of being separate from the rest of their human family.

And how some chose to stand united against the things they could not stand for — Wearing masks. Social distance. Stay-at-home orders. Like all of us, they wanted their voices to be heard. It’s just their way was different.

And hopefully, we’ll talk about how those of us who did our best to abide by stay-at-home and wearing-mask orders struggled to understand how others could not grasp the severity of our situation. And how, our condemnation and judgement of those who suffered these times in different ways than us became a greater distance to traverse than the loneliness we all felt during these days of sheltering-in-place.

There will come a time when we will tell stories of these days and while we may not remember them fondly, let us remember how we each did our best to weather this storm. And how, while someone’s way may have been different, they too were doing their best to make sense of it all and to make a difference in whatever way they knew how.

And as we remember, let us let go of our human tendency to condemn those who think differently, believe differently, express themselves differently. Instead, let us cross the divide of our differences so that we can celebrate having come through these days of a global pandemic sweeping the globe, together.

Let us not remember our differences but instead, let us share our memories of love for the millions of lives lost, the millions of lives fallen ill, the millions of lives forever changed.

Let us remember our loved ones not with the regret of not being by their bedsides as they struggled to take their last breath, but rather, of all the times we sat by their sides laughing and sharing in the love that binds us in life, and in death.

Let us remember we were all struggling. Believers and non-believers. Mask wearers and non-mask wearers. Instead of making outcasts of those who did it differently, let us say a prayer. For one another. And in our prayers let us hold onto what connects us, what makes us who we are, what makes this human condition so remarkable.

Our humanity is not one colour, one belief, one common roadmap. It is diverse. Colourful. Multi-faceted. We stand on deserts and mountaintops. We walk on gravel paths and paved roads. We swim in salty oceans and freshwater lakes.

And still, we breathe air into our lungs. We flow blood through our veins. Our bodies are supported by skeletons made up of bones, 206 in every adult body. Our body is covered with the epidermis, no matter the colour of our skin.

In years to come, when we look back on these times and tell our stories of grief and hardship, of great feats of heroism and simple acts of kindness, let us remember to speak with gratitude and grace and kindness in every word we share about one another.

Because, in times to come, when we speak of these days, we will be speaking of ourselves. Of we, the people.

All of us. Coming through this. Together.

Let us carry with us the memories of how, no matter how dark the day or long the night, we never lost sight of the Love that binds us. The Love that brings us into this world and carries us through every day of our lives. For we each come into this world in the same way. Crying. Kicking. Gasping for breath. And we all leave it on one final breath.

And in between, though our lives may be different, let us remember that it is our capacity to love one another that connects us. Through good times and bad. Dark and light. Life and death.

In years to come, let us tell our stories. Let us remember. And let us hold onto Love.