What if and If only

A special thanks before I begin this post, to my friend Peter, for sharing his feelings of anguish and fear with me, which opened a door for me to return to writing. I had been struggling in recent weeks and months to share my thoughts.

For those who have lost someone to COVID, or are presently caring for and worried about a loved one, my heart goes out to you. I light my candles, often sending loving thoughts into the universe to those suffering. This post is not for you, only my candlelight.

But, for those of you who might be somewhat like me, mildly depressed, anxious, worrisome, fretful, afraid, angry, unmotivated, who are not sick and don’t have any loved ones who are… read on.

The other day I saw a headline on People magazine about someone who had died from cancer. My first thought was, “oh, thank God they only died of cancer, and not COVID.” Seriously?!? I clearly needed to put myself in check. Had I actually just thought that? My next question was, “Sue, just how skewed has your thinking become? Come on, girl, we need to fix this.”

It became clear to me that I needed the equivalent of a chiropractic adjustment on my brain. As a result of that, I have spent the last few days playing with different scenarios in my mind, which I wanted to share in the hopes it might help a few of my readers.

Gratitude seems to be my go-to in life, and it’s one of the few things during this time that perks me up. I have to work on it these days. I make efforts each day to put aside my fears and thank the heavens above for all that is so wonderful in my life.

I hate to admit this, but when I’m struggling to find gratitude, I sometimes need to look to who and what might be worse than what I’m experiencing, to put myself in an appreciative mindset. It was in that vein that I stumbled upon the subject of this post, what if and if only.

On what would turn out to be a healing journey of the mind, I began by trying to put myself in the shoes of the people who experienced Chernobyl. I watched the HBO series last year when visiting our Matt in Buffalo. I didn’t know much about Chernobyl, truthfully, until I watched the series. I felt like I was watching the worst science fiction/horror movie I’d ever seen, except it was a true story. It stayed with me for weeks, if not months. The suffering and loss were horrific.

The people of Chernobyl lost their homes, their land, their loved ones, all their belongings, and lastly were delivered a death sentence. For some, illness would make its way slowly but make no mistake, death would be waiting in the wings for anyone even remotely close to the site.

What if those people were told that all they needed to do was wear a mask, stay away from big crowds, do a bit of social distancing and wash their hands often? Can you imagine the relief and gratitude they would have experienced if only the solution was that simple?

Next, I thought about the families who find themselves sending their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, wives, and husbands off to foreign lands to fight world battles. Who knew that it’s possible to hold your breath for so many days, turning into months and ending in years?

What if, those millions of people holding their breath were told, all they had to do was wear a mask, stay out of crowds, do a bit of social distancing, and wash their hands. If they followed these simple instructions, they could rest assured that the odds were very high that their loved ones would return home healthy and safe. If only

Next, my mind visited the Jewish concentration camps, the prisoners stripped of everything, their families, their possessions, their humanness really, treated worse than animals.

What if the prisoners were told that all they needed to do was wear a mask, stay away from big crowds, do a bit of social distancing and wash their hands often? If they did so, they would be released from their suffering? If only

My last stop was a cancer ward. I could see every stage of life in my vision. Parents with sick children, no child should have to suffer from cancer. No parent should have to experience their sweet baby’s suffering. I saw friends, husbands and wives, parents and grandparents, and grandchildren, every possible connection, suffering through the crisis of cancer. Sometimes there’s a happy ending. So many times, there isn’t.

What if these cancer patients and their loved ones were told that all they needed to do was wear a mask, stay away from big crowds, do a bit of social distancing and wash their hands often? And if they followed these instructions, they had an excellent chance of remission, or even better yet, full recovery? If only

I ended my journey back in my home sweet home, so grateful for my health and that of my loved ones and thankful for this moment in time, which is all I can truly call my own. And the good news is, I’m just being asked to wear a mask in public places, distance myself for a while, and wash my hands often. Simple remedies are my reality, not a what-if or an if only. In my thinking, that makes me a pretty lucky woman.

Coronavirus is a serious threat, no doubt about it. But we have power available to us through our actions. That is an amazing gift. Let’s use it, and not get too caught up in our rights. We lost the right years ago to ride in a car without a seatbelt. We lived through that, and many lived on because of that.

Before we know it, our masks will be lying at the bottom of a drawer. I can’t wait.

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