Passover is canceled because of a plague. Technically, Passover will not be canceled this year because of the coronavirus, but for most of us, it won’t be observed in the traditional fashion to which each family has become accustomed. We may not be celebrating with extended family, with grandparents, with friends or family with an immune deficiency risk, or with those living with a cancer diagnosis, like many of our Sharsheret callers.
I recently had a conversation with a woman living with breast cancer. She reflected on the phrase ‘unprecedented times.’ She shared, “I’ve been living in ‘unprecedented times’ since my diagnosis. I’ve been worried about my future. My anxiety is through the roof. I’m frustrated with the lack of answers. I have had to be careful around others who may have colds or the flu, way before this virus began. I’ve been worried about how my family is managing. My life is turned upside down. I’m told I need to live with a new normal. Welcome to my world.”
The outbreak of the coronavirus has, indeed, brought everyone into her world. Our lives have been turned upside down. We don’t have control over many of our circumstances. We are all being asked to adjust to our new normal. We have become hyper vigilant about our health, worrying that others could compromise our well-being. Just like many women calling Sharsheret, this coronavirus has interfered in work and has us worried about our financial health. Our daily routines have become upended. We are doing our best to maintain stability for our kids amidst this global health crisis. Each day, we live with uncertainty.
We are feeling out of control and need to embrace the areas of our lives where we do have control. As difficult as this is, we need to achieve some level of acceptance of our circumstances so that we can continue to move forward. We have access to healthy food and water. We can go outside and walk, stay active, and enjoy the sunshine. We can take measures to protect one another, particularly those in our community who are more vulnerable to the virus. We are responsible for our own health AND the health and wellbeing of others. We can be patient and respect the space and time it takes to eradicate this virus. Because we are homebound, we can find opportunities to be productive and opportunities for quiet and tranquility.
We can find opportunities for gratitude. We can thank those in healthcare, medical research, and medical supplies who are working very hard to treat and save lives. We can be thankful that for many of us our basic needs are taken care of. We are reminded to appreciate what we have, when we have it. We can ask ourselves “Am I okay in this moment? Are my kids okay in this moment? If the answer is yes, for that moment we can feel thankful.
Soon we will be sitting at a Passover Seder. We will be retelling the story of slavery and freedom. We can feel enslaved by a cancer diagnosis or a global health scare. Dwelling on our predicaments keeps us enslaved. Just as with the Children of Israel, we free ourselves by acknowledging our vulnerabilities and exercising control where we can. I found a quote online “Optimism does not mean that everything is going to be great. It means that we can respond to everything with greatness. Or at least, the best we can.” This year, let’s tap into empathy, empowerment, gratitude, and hope. This is our moment.