...my son got married. I learned about it after the fact. My brother got Covid. He's fully vaccinated and immunocompromised. Facebook and Instagram stopped working. I thought it had something to do with me. My dog ate an entire box of Cliff Bars. And I couldn't escape the thought it was all my fault, that I had some power over any of these things.
But the hard, cold fact is that I am powerless over my son's action, my brother's exposure, or my dog's incessant need to get into things I think I've put away. What I can control is my own sense of who I am and how I maneuver through life in these situations.
My son's marriage made perfect sense to him. He and his fiance (now wife) live a fast-pace life in the D.C. area. They work long hours, he goes to school and they have little time for much else. So on a day at the courthouse for another issue, the stars aligned for them to make their long relationship legit for health insurance needs. Did he tell me in a way I'd like to receive the information? No. Was I shocked? Yes. But when reason returned and I could think clearly, I knew that this was not about me.
The same day I learned about the marriage, my brother called to tell me he had Covid. He lives in California. I'm in the Midwest. It's not uncommon for him to go a couple of weeks without calling me, but I got anxious this past Sunday, day seven of my ten day trek through lessons. I panicked when I realized I hadn't heard from him. I texted him, no response. I called, left a voicemail. No return call.
In my mind, we are frozen in time. Children laying in grass, our smiles pointed at the camera, just before we roll down the hill together. I smell sweetness for our otherwise painful childhood. He left when he was 18, tried a few times to save me from myself, align with his beliefs. But for the most part, I rooted myself in family while he has lived mostly alone for 48 years of adulthood. I don't even know if he has me as an emergency contact should he be unable to call.
When Facebook and Instagram went down yesterday it took me half the day to realize that I wasn't getting any new information. Another panic in an already anxious day. I thought I had done something to have Facebook arbitrarily take me off of my own news feed. I'm a girl who goes by the Thumper rule that if you can't say anything nice on Facebook don't say anything at all. But I started second guessing myself. Maybe the message I put out on my brother's page wasn't appropriate. Maybe I'd gotten some worm or virus. Whatever the case, I felt hopeless until I called my husband and asked him to look at my Facebook page, expecting him to call me back and tell me there was a big red line through my feed and a message that says, "It's all her fault." When my husband called back and told me that the entire site was down, I laughed at my false belief that I had caused something so great as to shut down Facebook. Please, Tina, they have bigger fish to fry.
I'd been so panicked all day, that news of the outage had not gotten to me. My mind looped between calling hospitals in my brother's area to calling the police and trying to keep my voice from cracking. The committee in my head kept trying to calm me while simultaneously inciting more fear. He's been vaccinated. He has ties to his church. He is resourceful. His phone may be on the fritz.
Late in the day, driving my granddaughter home in a teeming storm, I'd gotten so swallowed up in my own stuff. On my way back to my house, the steely blue gray storm clouds set a backdrop for the most exquisite arc of red, orange, green, blue, and violet rainbow that stretched across the entire city. It brought me back to the details of life.
I returned to 2 different mantras that have served me in times of panic.
I didn't cause these situations, I have no control over them, and I can't change the situations or the people.
And then, before I went to sleep last night, I lifted my eyes to an invisible universe and ask my dead parents to take care of my brother because I cannot. And so, I returned to a mantra that keeps me focused when I'm in these situations:
I love you, I bless you, and I release you.
It's the end of a new day that started with a lovely fog, but I'm willing to face the world knowing that the only control I have is that of my thinking, my actions, and my emotions. Beyond that, whatever life throws this way, is what life throws this way. I have to believe not that everything happens for a reason but that I have coping mechanisms in place to be able to face whatever comes my way.