The tears come out of nowhere, like a slight summer breeze moving through the leaves. So much sadness surrounding everyone, hearts breaking with the loss of loved ones through the illness or from some horrific act. Unspeakable horror recently in London. A family gone. A child left orphaned and destroyed. Unmarked graves discovered.
We grieve all day, every day. Yet still we strive for the least glimmer of happiness, finding it in the antics of animals on Facebook, in the way the sun shines on a velvet petal or through a dewdrop prism. It is hope that is missing.
The media is mired in the dreadful, focussing on what divides people, crying crocodile tears, and mouthing syrupy sounding words over tragic events that are so very remote from their own sheltered lives. I find myself shouting FUCK OFF! at the TV, like a demented old woman, several times a day. Why do I listen? Because that is all there is. Every show has been politicized beyond bearing – not even the game shows are immune. And the sound of human voices in the background of my day is comforting.
I arise each morning telling myself to face the day with intrepid spirit, to take pleasure in those little things, to distract myself with work or in taking on the cares of others, trying to help them in my puny way when, of course, what I can mostly do is to agonize over their circumstances. Still, I feel I must try and if that at least offers them hope, it is something. Immersing myself in these things distracts me, keeps me from thinking, but how about all those who have no such convenient aids?
I hear their tears.
“I am so sad, so very sad,” said a wonderful, successful young man yesterday.
“I guess I am just so grumpy with everything and everyone,” said another this morning, after his anger had spilled over onto Facebook.
“Can I call you back?” asked a third, her voice breaking. Her mother has been transferred to an Ottawa hospital and is “very bad”.
It is terribly wearing. Folks are reaching the ends of their tethers and do not even realize why they feel so low. How can they help it, though, when all we hear about is hatred and anger and division on every front with accusations of racism and declarations of discrimination against every possible category of group into which people can be divided? It is this division, this labelling, this categorization that is engendering all the pent-up emotions, and this is exacerbated by the solitude and deprivations of COVID and acidly eating away at our souls.
A strong, brave friend who has faced many difficulties in life, confessed to me today that all of this is eroding her energy and joy. “Some days I just feel so down,” she said. “I worry about everything. I worry about what is happening in the world and how to fix it.”
We sat in the garden and talked.
The garden and her company eased things a little.
The annuals were recovering from the heavy rain, yet unpollinated, their scent perfuming the air. Ferns and hostas are still unfurling, lush and perfect, dressed in all the beautiful greens of springtime. The spreading Manitoba maple is carelessly flinging out new growth and generous leaves. On the very old stereo that resides in the garage-cum-potting shed, Beethoven tried to keep up to the wrens that, for the whole two hours we sat together, sang a song of joy.
Behind us two squirrels were having a chattering battle over territory. Everyone wants to live in this garden. The littlest red yearling climbed down the tree and faced us with great cheek, staring us boldly in the eye.
It helped us both.
Gradually, we felt the acid dissolve. The air was cool but not cold, the sounds around us were a blessing on our minds. The signs of life beginning again sent a subliminal message of encouragement.
For a moment, we were able to breathe, to be us.
What do people do without a garden to turn to?