Amid my wife’s cancer battle, I only had a short window of peace each morning between the time I woke up and remembering what my family was going through. Sometimes I was lucky and wouldn’t remember until I got halfway to the bathroom before it hit my heart as if I had stepped on a Lego.
There were times I didn’t want to get out of bed because if I slept, I wouldn’t have to worry. I was suffering from dread; the chronic fear of anticipation that sits on your shoulder and constantly taps to remind you it is there. With COVID-19, it is happening to me again, but I’m fighting it.
The truth is a lot of us are feeling dread now with good reason; this is real. People we know and love are going to get sick; it could be me, it could be you, it could be the both of us. It is horrifying.
Having experienced dread before, albeit not on the level where everyone I love is at risk, I can offer this advice: don’t let dread win. Fear this virus enough to make you protect the health of your families, wash your hands, follow your physician’s advice, but don’t let dread win.
I know that is easy to say and harder to believe, but you must fight the need to cave to fear. Even though it feels like we are alone on this sinking ship, you mustn’t give up. Donald Trump and Kim Reynolds clearly have no idea what they are doing. Their “leadership” is nearly worse than this virus and their actions/inactions will certainly cause this crisis to go on longer than it should. History will judge them on the number of those we lose.
For now, as best you can, ignore their demagoguery; shut them off. They didn’t care about you before coronavirus; they don’t care about you now. When this nears the end, they will only care about big business. You can take that to the bank.
It can seem overwhelming now, but as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Amongst all this darkness there are stars everywhere. Look to them.
Look to the nurses and medical staff who go to work and, in some cases, forced to work without the appropriate medical gear.
Look to the folks sewing masks with donated materials to help keep our communities safe.
Look to the farmers, truck drivers, and grocery workers who are keeping our food chain secure.
Look to the school staff who are still handing out food to kids who need breakfast and lunch.
Look to the teachers who are transitioning to provide lessons in a brand-new way.
Look to the folks and organizations who are raising money and donations, so people won’t go hungry.
Look toward yourself who must fight for the elections in November to make sure our “leadership” can never lead again. We mustn’t allow the bitterness of our candidate losing to allow the monster in D.C. to continue his stranglehold on our country. Trump personifies dread; we can’t let him win.
In the meantime, look at the silver linings in your own life. I’ve put my phone down. I haven’t been checking social media obsessively. I’m closer to my family. I talk to my mom every day. I wave at people who pass my house and they wave back. My house has never been more organized. I gave up fast food to cook real food. I’m making art again. I’m taking online classes to learn for fun. I need to clean my car, but I’m not going anywhere.
This is our life for now. Should you find dread hitting your heart or tapping you on the shoulder, close your eyes and think of your joys amongst the worry. Then open them and become a star for your community; someone out there needs your light more than ever!
by Jeremy Dumkrieger
Chair of Woodbury County Democrats, IDP SCC member