Perception and the Pandemic
Honest answers to difficult questions.
Posted Sep 27, 2020
As we walked along, silence blanketed our little duo. We literally were within an arm’s length of one another, but figuratively we were worlds apart. We moved along, matching our gaits, but deeply entrenched in our own thoughts. The pandemic was weighing heavily on my mind. I could only guess that it was occupying some of his cognitive space as well. Life had changed dramatically, and while we had found ways to adapt – even celebrating some of the changes – we also had moments where uncertainty and frustration prevailed.
Zoe’s velvety red leash was loosely tethered to my son’s arm, and her apricot curls danced as her feet rose and fell in a rhythmic motion. As we rounded the corner, the magnificent sun sent twinkling shards of light across the water. It was breathtaking. In unison, we paused to absorb the beauty. The only sound between us caused by the slightly elevated rate of our breathing. After a surprising gust of wind, a plump acorn fell to the ground with a resounding plop and brought us back to the moment. We took one last glance across the water and resumed our walk.
As her humans occupied their own little private bubbles of contemplation, Zoe looked for excitement in the morning’s excursion. A yellow leaf taunted her as it swirled down the winding path, an agitated snake hissed a warning as it slithered into the tall grass beyond the boardwalk, and the fluffy squirrels chattered excitedly as we approached their domain. My son cleared his throat, breathed deeply, and turned toward me.
“Mom? When will this virus be over?”
“I don’t know, honey.”
“I miss shopping, eating out, and seeing my friends.”
“I know. I do too.”
His inquisitive blue eyes looked deeply into mine — searching for answers that I simply did not have. While an adult, his special needs make him child-like in many ways. He sees the good in me — even when I falter. He believes I have all the answers — even when I do not. He trusts that I will tell him the truth — even in these uncertain times. At lightning speed, thoughts flashed through my mind — thoughts but no answers.
We want to know when the pandemic will no longer dictate so much in our daily lives. We want to know what the future will look like and when we will be able to interact with others in a more personal and intimate manner. We want to know which changes are temporary and which will remain. We want to know, but we simply do not.
I took a deep breath, reached for his hand, and gave him a reassuring smile.
“I don’t know, honey. But I do know that the smartest people in the world are working on this, and they will figure it out. Someday soon you will be able to do all the things you enjoy. We just need to be patient. In the meantime, we will find joy in the moments we have together, we will focus on what we can do to stay healthy, and we will work to protect one another.”
He smiled contentedly, gave my hand a quick squeeze, and tousled Zoe’s furry head. As if on cue, she gave a gentle tug of her leash and impatiently trotted in place. We giggled, decided to follow her lead, and, with much lighter spirits, began the walk home.
Copyright Linda Seiford, Ph.D.