December 2019 I was home with my family in Nebraska, we had a wonderful Christmas together. My brother, sisters-in-law, nephew, my children, what a wonderful time, not knowing the future. My plan was to return in March over Spring break. That is what happens with plans.
The hardest thing about the pandemic has been the absence of my family. I usually see them 3-4 times a year. When I made the decision to come to Florida, I spoke to them about being so far away, they all assured me I should follow my heart. Now it has been 15 months since I have seen them, and it wears on me. Christmas was really hard; the first Christmas I have ever been away from my family. When anyone experiences the pain of any type of loss it can lead you to one of two places. A place of deep depression and bitterness or a place of reaching for the hand of God to guide you through it. I cannot say I have not been depressed at times during this pandemic and my particular situation, but it has led me to a place of trusting God more. I know there are many more people walking the same path I am. Some having many more physical issues than I do, living with loneliness and at times despair. I pray for these people as I can identify with them a little.
I grew up praying the rosary around my parents bed every night. It seems I always seek out my rosary when life seems dire. When my brother was dying, I stood in his hospital room with my beads in hand praying him to heaven. When I fly, I always have a plastic rosary in my pocket. During quarantine I did the same thing, reached for the beads, it gave me great peace to thread the beads through my fingers as I said the prayers.
Scripture has also given me a sense not only of purpose but a sense of peace. While we are not doing Children’s Liturgy of the Word dismissal at mass now, each week I prepare an at home model for the families. As I think about what would bring the Gospel to life for the children, it also brings me to life and leads to really think about the readings each week. It helps me to see the hand of God in my life.
I learned to sew at a very early age and during quarantine I began to sew cloth face masks. It turned into a Ministry here at Saint William. Now several ladies are sewing and donating masks to those who need them. Another opportunity for prayer. After you make a few hundred the machine begins to know its way around the cloth and allows your mind to say a prayer for the person that will be wearing this mask.
I am very blessed to have wonderful friends, especially here at work that keep my spirits up. My job has always been a blessing in my life and now it is twice so. It gets me up in the morning, gives me something to look forward to everyday. Amid the clouds of loneliness, the sun always peeks out somewhere and in some way.