In search of story

June 18.20: Coping


I see many references to isolation and aloneness these days. As an introvert, I’m comfortable with aloneness. Usually content with my own company, I do not crave the madding crowd. Aloneness isn’t always loneliness.

But I haven’t been with my family since March 6. No hugs for three months! There’s loneliness in that, as many elderly (and not-so-elderly) know.

It has recently occurred to me that there is another dimension to my aloneness. My close friends vary in age, but all of us have experienced family death in our parents’ generation. However, among my friends, I am the only one to have lost the sibling connection to the past; I’m the first to be The Last. This hit me as a revelation. Unaware, I’ve been grappling with a sense of aloneness among my friends.

I am an old single parent who is also The Last One of the family she grew up with — those are my particular circumstances — but I think most of us are grappling with some kind of aloneness, and maybe loneliness too, at this time. It doesn’t mean we have the same life experiences, only that we are in the same human condition. Human, but dangerously corrosive, all the more so swirled as it is with anger.

As I’ve said before, I think writers write about two things: what is, and what could be. Sometimes we can’t write about what could be until we write about what is. For me, this is what is.



9 thoughts on “June 18.20: Coping

  1. You can tell my diminished capacity by how I logged on here. šŸ˜¦ I’m also the last in the family. Not a good spot unless you consider the alternative. šŸ™‚ I haven’t hugged my grandkids since last December. I know that if I ever get that chance again, I will probably cry like a baby. The pent up emotions is a challenge to deal with day after day. I’m an introvert and was an only child – I know how to be alone, but this is different. This is like cut off from society which is very uncomfortable. Our state has eased up a lot of restrictions, but I’m still staying at home most of the time and when I do go out for errands, it’s mask on, start your engines, and mission accomplished. šŸ™‚ Stay well. Wish we were neighbors, we could sit apart and chat.

    • Let’s not speak of diminished capacity! I have no idea how you signed in, but perhaps I can empathize by telling you I just tripped over the coffee table, which has been in its present position for over two years. I didn’t know it was there? My three left feet combined with diminished capacity? Stunning.

      But here’s the thing: you are a pair of eyes over a mask, gritting your teeth to run your errands and just wanting to get back home without an illness or confrontation. But you are a grandma who sorely misses hugs, a genius at needlework and gardening, a dessert aficionado, a little girl back on that farm, a remnant of a wonderful family, a legacy of a single mom….and so on. There’s such a rich human story and yet we’ve all been reduced to data points and masks. Or so it feels. You are so right that knowing how to be alone is one thing, but this aloneness is different.

      It would be fun to sit six feet away from you and yell back and forth, but I can’t tell if we’d draw an appreciative crowd or cause people to run for their lives.

      • You and me laughing out loud – we’d definitely draw a crowd. šŸ™‚ A MG friend recently died, and when I posted her obituary I was in total awe of what this special lady accomplished in her lifetime. Every city has been in an uproar about their 2020 graduating seniors. I say let’s have a real ‘senior’ day, and all of us over 65 wear a billboard with a synopsis of our lives. I think we would cause all the young folks to stop in their tracks. šŸ™‚

      • What an idea! The AARP version of senior cords!!!

  2. I’m an only child, but I was raised very closely with my cousin. We’ve all lost everyone else, but virus- or otherwise, I suspect I’ll be the last of all the cousins. A dreadful thought indeed, but I for sure wouldn’t wish anyone back. (I also suspect it’s infinitely better on the other side.) Hang in there!

    • Although I do not have the experience, I have heard that cousins can be like siblings, and so I think I can understand your dread of being the last one. It isn’t easy.

  3. There’s no easy reply to this one and nothing that can be said to make it better. I have all kinds of angst which I keep as down as best I can. As you say, that is part of being human. I think too of the many, perhaps millions, who are alone with no family, no children, no friends, no work. This time is a mixed blessing for them because they are no longer alone being alone. They are given credit for the difficulty of it. People are perhaps even offering to help with shopping or conversation or exchanging a passing smile of sympathy and fellow feeling. I wonder how many of these people have a secret fear of it all being over and the world going back to normal. This is not a very cheery comment is it?

    • I think sometimes being cheery doesn’t help. No need to try. I’d not thought about the possibility that some people would be saddened by a return to “normal” because they’d be alone again. Goodness. I wonder if what we knew as normal will ever return. Maybe it’s OK if it doesn’t. Meanwhile, angst. It’s exhausting. I see your beautiful posts, and I’m quite sure you are trying like mad to keep your eye on the beauty. I hope from time to time you let out an indecorous word or two.

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