After putting on my mask, my special pair of “outside-shoes-during-quarantine,” my gloves, and what’s left of my sanity, I ventured beyond our house. Since pushing Day #60 of at-home quarantine around our house, heading into the community for necessary provisions was a considerable leap of faith. I spoke sternly to myself on my way to the grocery store to retrieve our online order. After last week’s verbal altercation inside the store with the creepy stalker guy who followed me with no mask, no gloves, and less than six-feet of distance from my personal space, ordering groceries online for pickup seemed the best choice this week. Securing a time slot was an added bonus since home delivery is evidently not option where we live. Choosing items online while giving up purchasing decisions was another step in tempering my control-freak-benevolent-overlord issue, but yes, I can and will be flexible too. So, over the lake and through the woods to the grocery drive-up lane I went.
While loading everything into the back of my car, the very kind assistant shared the list of items missing from the order. Mind you, I’m all about substitutions; after all, we must be bendable but not breakable in these challenging times (and will gladly accept ANY roll of toilet paper available). As she rapidly ran through the substitution list, one item caught my attention…“No limes or lime juice available, but you do have extra lemons in the bag.” No big deal. Oh…wait. No limes? At all? Lemons, again? Who’s hoarding all the limes and do they have all the toilet paper as well?
There was one particular activity left on my agenda this week specifically involving limes. You see, we were scheduled to leave with friends on a special vacation today, May 1, to explore Key West…the first non-working trip for St. M in a long time. In the planning stages for the last three years, this trip was finally happening. All our schedules coincided, reservations and tickets were purchased in advance, and everything came together beautifully…and then, a pandemic. In a snap, the entire adventure evaporated. My whole mantra of “plan your work, work your plan, and autograph your work with excellence” was out the window. No vacation. Stay home. Be safe and well. Adjust. “No limes, but you do have extra lemons in the bag.”
All the way home I pondered. Once home, I removed my shoes, washed my hands, and M helped unload the bags to the designated drop area while I wiped down and put everything away. The tears started quietly flowing when the first lemon emerged, then quickly turned into my ugly, snot-sobbing meltdown (if you know me at all, this is rare, but when it occurs, brace yourself). While limes are not a necessary staple of life, especially in a pandemic, this one time, when I had a specific purpose planned as a surprise treat, “no limes, but you do have extra lemons in the bag.”
Limes weren’t the real reason for my outburst. I was crying about the overwhelming weight of this entire reality for ALL of us. I was mourning our complete lack of control over this unbelievable situation. I was snot-sobbing because I can’t physically be with my little women, my sister, my family, and my friends. I was grieving for the crushing number of individual lives lost in this pandemic, the families losing these loved ones, the heroes serving daily on the relentless front lines, the essential workers who are exhausted and scared, the scientists and researchers desperate for answers and a plan, the insane loss of millions of jobs and financial stability, the school children missing their teachers and friends, the parents doing their personal best to educate their children while maintaining daily life and keeping food on the table, the high school and college students missing milestone activities and graduation ceremonies, the individuals living in complete isolation with no assistance, people experiencing food and housing insecurities, the persons who are dying completely alone, the stress, hurt, worry, and despair we are ALL experiencing at varying and alarming degrees…and so much more. I was naming and working to process the powerful thoughts and feelings within this uncharted territory. But limes? Limes simply became the tipping point.
When calm prevailed, the words of Washington Irving once shared again resonated new meaning: “There is a sacredness in tears…they are messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love…”
So today, I’m grateful and relieved St. M had a soft flannel shirt and loving arms securing me as I released all on my highest speed. I’m grateful for a working washing machine and detergent to wash his beloved shirt. I’m grateful for fresh hope to move forward in the most graceful way possible, finding small ways everyday to make some type of difference. I’m grateful to acknowledge and express my anxiety, fears, uncertainty, and longing. I’m grateful for our kind neighbor who left three limes and more of her home-grown lettuce on our front porch table. I’m grateful there are little lime pies now waiting on the front porch of our travel friends to remind them we will head south some day to the land of endless beaches, six-toed cats, spectacular sunsets, and authentic key lime pie. And specifically today, I’m grateful we’ll make some fresh lemonade to sip on our porch (with all these extra lemons) as we continue to stay put, stay safe, and create new ways to be gentle and kind to ourselves and others. 🙂