A Cup of Coffee – We Are Americans and We've Got This

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Welcome back! Last week, we talked about our emotions taking us hostage and what we can do about that. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.

This week, we are going to talk about fuzzy stuff, so buckle up, buttercup!

As I sit at my computer and get ready to write this week’s blog, I take the time to notice what’s around me. The room is dark, my husband is behind me, asleep, our Boston Terriers are piled on top of him, snoring. The swoosh of our noise machine fills the air with the sound of waves crashing onto the shore, and a light breeze blows my hair ever so slightly as the heat pump kicks in, sensing a chill in the air. It’s one in the morning, and I’m working from home.

My mind isn’t on this week’s blog at all. In fact, my mind isn’t even on this point in time. I find myself thinking about 9/11, and how Americans linked elbows to make ourselves feel better. To rid ourselves of that nagging feeling that we were vulnerable. That feeling that said, “you have lost control”.

I feel like that right now. Like we’ve lost control. Americans are funny creatures. We bicker and fight, and take partisan sides, but when the chips are down, we are like siblings who may punch each other in the shoulder without regret, but let an outsider try it, and we’re all in. You will not mess with us. Covid-19 is the outsider this go around, and many of us are concerned, uncertain, even scared. We find ourselves looking around for support, for control, and unlike 9/11, we can’t hug each other, or sit with our loved ones and friends and cry it out. We are isolated. We have to self soothe. Some of us for the first time in our lives.

My home once filled to the brim with family, extended family, music, and laughter, now only entertains myself, my husband, and our “bonus son“, Levi. The back porch, a haven for those who like to smoke a nice cigar and enjoy an adult beverage, sits vacant, one lone stogey sitting in the ashtray. The occasional bird drops by to see if there’s anything new in the feeder, and the overall emptiness is palpable. So many people in my circle have actually broken down and cried, grieving the loss of our little community.

My son and his partner live next door. I miss my sons’ hugs tremendously. He gives the best bear hugs. They check-in when they have to run to the store to minimize how many of us are out traveling at any given time. When they shop for us, they leave the product on our porch. We look for them on their porch, wave, blow kisses, and then retreat back into our homes, locking the doors behind us. So unnatural. So surreal.

In all of this awkward uncertainty, I noticed online that people are helping other people. I take comfort in the notion of this. Mr. Rogers said it best:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

― Fred Rogers

Indeed.

Truckers working overtime to get supplies where they are needed, and teachers putting together packets and meals for their students who are now at home instead of the classroom. Grocery clerks risking infection so that people can buy food and other necessities. Celebrities reading books to children, people offering to run errands for their high-risk neighbors, and crafters taking on the 100 million mask challenge, meant to provide masks to medical personnel who are risking infection to care for the ill.

Sewing has never been my jam, but I decided to drag out my mama’s sewing machine along with her favorite pin cushion pictured right. She hadn’t used the machine for at least 10 years before her death, and I had no idea how to even turn it on, much less sew on it. Thankfully, it had a manual, and with only a few tears and a couple of tantrums, I learned how to make a mask. It wasn’t pretty, but it was functional. The only problem was that I was late to the party, and there wasn’t a pack of ¼ inch elastic to be found.

To illustrate our ability as a country to come together, I put out the all-call for help on three different social media sites, and by 5:00 pm, I had enough elastic to make dozens of masks, all donated. Nobody would accept a dime. I wasn’t asked if I was any certain political party, or to declare myself a certain religion. Nobody cared who I would be sleeping with that night. They had elastic and I was making masks and we all just needed to feel like we were helping.

One woman who donated elastic lived with a husband who was medically fragile. They hadn’t left their house since March 1st. Leading up to her gate, where she left the plastic bag for me to pick up, were two rows of gorgeous daffodils. Over the phone, she urged me to pick a bouquet. What a lovely gesture.

Another woman, when she saw my post, left her home and drove to a fabric store, where she stood in line to get her allotted packages. Elastic was so scarce, it was being rationed. She then dropped it off on our porch.

While I sewed masks, my daughter helped me problem solve how to add metal to the top of the mask so it could be pinched shut, and my husband, more a computer guy than a sewing guy, worked at putting together a place online for people to sign-in on the computer and “virtually socialize“.

Just hearing someone’s voice after two weeks of being in isolation was enough to bring people to tears. Being socially isolated is for some, akin to torture, especially folks who live alone. The extroverts and the huggers of this world are in emotional pain. They are not ok. Call them and talk to them, don’t text, call. Being isolated is their worst nightmare, and having a place to go and hear other people speak, even if it was on a computer, was better than nothing.

And then there’s music. Ah, music. Always a go-to when I’m lonely. We were visited by my “bonus daughter” and her wife (before Oregon’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, when we were just starting to isolate). Music is a very important part of our lives, and here they were, “Corona Caroling“. I’ve provided the video for proof because I knew you would say, “pictures or it didn’t happen“. No hugs were given, no contact was made, and yet it made our day. It’s the little things that matter right now. This video has received over 10k views on social media and has now been transferred to a Youtube video. Proof that we are all desperate for community and connection.

Jessi La Main, singer/songwriter/Donna Rayne La Main, Manager, and son, Ben

Someone mentioned that it felt like we were at war, and many of us were the modern Rosie the Riveter, our nurses and doctors, all on the front line, fighting an invisible enemy. When mask makers ran out of elastic, they got creative and bought hair headbands, cut them in half, and used them in place of the ¼ inch.

People have started gardens, not just for themselves, but large enough that they would have produce to share with others a couple of months from now when hopefully we will all emerge from this pandemic, stronger for the effort. Some may be low on funds and will need a boost in the vegetable department. It is then that these helpers will see the fruits of their labor (pun sorta intended).

Famous musicians performed a concert that was live-streamed from their living rooms.

Elon Musk secured thousands of ventilators from China (overstock) and was distributing them to areas in the United States that were hardest hit and had the least resources.

Once I started looking, examples just kept coming. Everywhere I turned, there they were. The helpers. Thousands of them. It gave me hope. It should give you hope as well.

We will all get by. We have a history of getting by during the toughest of times. We will not break. We will not give up. We are Americans, and as long as we have each other, we’ve got this.

If you found this blog to be informative or just a relaxing way to waste time, please do me a favor and share it on your Facebook page? To share, just click on the Facebook icon located right below this paragraph. Much appreciated!

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