And how I'm managing to simmer down!
On a scale of 1 to 10, my anger levels are pretty near 11 these days. Ordinarily I’m not an angry person and I don’t really recognize myself, or these feelings, when the only color I see is red (as opposed to my favorite shade of baby pink). It’s frustrating and it takes the good out of everything around me.
The causes for this anger are multiple, but if I had to isolate one thing in particular I’d say it’s not seeing my family. Thanks to COVID-19 it has now been one full year since I’ve seen them — my parents, six of my seven siblings, and 19 out of my 22 nieces and nephews. I haven’t even met my youngest niece who was born last summer, and there’s nothing like being with a newborn.
When I say that I adore my family, that doesn’t quite describe it. I love and cherish them. They’re my best friends; they’ve supported me through some hideous moments in my life; they’ve shaped me to be the person I am today.
But in the back of my mind I have panicky thoughts. My dad is nearing 79. While he’s in pretty great health and about to receive his vaccination (thank you scientists all over the world!), I worry that something could happen to him — or my slightly younger mother for that matter. (She lives off fruit and veggies so we take for granted that she’ll be around forever.)
I look around my house and at all the DIY jobs my parents did here a year ago and my heart aches. What if I never see them again? What if I don’t receive one of my dad’s huge, reassuring bear hugs ever again? These feelings sometimes wash over me while I’m in the middle of cooking, trying to help my son to do his physics, or even while I’m engrossed in a film.
The anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, and COVID fatigue all boil inside me, pushing me higher up the anger scale. But then I get annoyed at myself, as I don’t want to be angry. So I’ve decided I am not going to let COVID make me angry. (I can be pretty persuasive with myself!) Instead, I’ll use this pesky pandemic to help me value what matters most to me — my family. Even if it’s through not-always-clear video calls, I’m going to cherish every word, every joke, every chat about supermarket deals for the joy and comfort they bring.
My only challenge I foresee with this is that once the anger dissipates, I feel guilty. I get to chat to family members every day. I’m truly loved and missed — as my mum reminds me every day. Given that so many people have lost loved ones, I feel bad complaining that I can’t get a hug.
But maybe it’s taken a global pandemic to put my life and expectations into perspective. I appreciate more than ever the fragility of life. I’m amazed that the parent/child relationship can grow deeper, even from afar and even as we age; and everything I’ve always held dear is so much more precious than I realized, and that is something to celebrate.
And speaking of celebrations … the party we’ll have when we finally reunite will be worth all the anger and frustration of the past many months. For now I hold on tightly to the wise words of King Solomon that my mother endlessly reminds me of: This too shall pass.
Is your large family scattered far and wide and unable to be together these days? Thankfully there are many saints who also came from big families to lean on, like the holy men and women in the slideshow below …