Our Human Family
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Our Human Family

The Power of the Pandemic

And long-lasting friendships

Photo by Matheus Bertelli via Pexels

I can openly say without any sense of doubt, I am blessed to be in the company of my loved ones. Even if I cannot physically see them, I feel them. They are here with me. We connect on various levels and are beginning to use other tools available to us to maintain and strengthen our kinship and bonds. The power of the pandemic is forcing us to move to other methods of sharing and being with one another. It is making us open our minds up to the many possibilities of finding and maintaining connection. Things we have never done, we are doing — others, we are fine-tuning so as to continue to be there for one another when we need to.

One of the things I have started doing again is video chatting via Skype. On April 4, 2020, I had a Skype conversation with one of my dearest friends, Elizabeth Helmich. I have not seen her or her beautiful girls in what seems like forever; however, we set a date and time and made it a point to connect via Skype.

I laughed and beamed at two of the most genuine and kind-hearted little ones in my life and I enjoyed every moment of this gift. The youngest daughter shared her favorite recipes with me from a dessert cookbook, then turned that same cookbook into a “hot dog hat.” I laughed until my belly ached — until my soul cried out for more and these two little ones continued to give me the beauty I needed on that day. Catching up this way nearly made me teary-eyed. I had several moments while speaking to the girls where I thought, Surely, the tears are going to fall, but they did not.

After my talk with the girls, E and I were able to communicate via video chat as well. Since I had not seen my friend in what has been a much longer time than we are accustomed to seeing each other and finally laid eyes on her, regardless of it being in pixelated digital form, it did something to my heart. I lit up. Suddenly, I remembered her deep-sea green eyes, the nervous laughter that can turn into a contagious guffaw, and the soft-spoken angel who listens to me when I ramble.

Catching up this way nearly made me teary-eyed. I had several moments while speaking to the girls where I thought, Surely, the tears are going to fall, but they did not.

We shifted to speaking over the phone the old-fashioned way, and listening to her voice became a testimony to the strength that lies within the years piling up onto a friendship — a bond — a connection.

We, as human beings, had our ways of communicating. We thought we knew what was best for us, but this global pandemic is sending several messages to us — we truly did not. Not being much of a “phone” person, I realize I need my loved ones’ voices in my ear as much as I can get them — regardless of how I get them, I need them — their sweet, loving, soul-saving voices.

The Powerhouse has taken up making masks for me and others. Since the virus touched down in the US, she has been worried about my going to work — and the constant exposure I face. She is a driving force in my text messages with the following phrases: “Are you still going to work?” “Why haven’t they shut down the facility yet?” “They’re making you use your PTO on the days you’re not working, that’s not right, Tre!” I know her heart. I know she wants what is best for me and wants to ensure I get it. With the ability and blessing of being able to work from home, she wants me to have the same advantage. However, what I do and where I work makes working from home unattainable at the moment.

Since I do have to go to work and eventually, we WILL run out of the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) at my job, she is using her gift to make masks for many of her loved ones and for those who need them. I have several items crafted by her and I cherish them. Although I currently cannot wear homemade masks to work, I will be able to wear them whenever I need to run an essential errand. This comforts me — the knowing of having something of necessity at the ready, made by one of my greatest loves . . . It strengthens our connection.

What do I do for her during this trying time? To keep her mind at ease, I text her my shift hours for the following day the night before. If I am off, I let her know that, too. It gives her a sense of peace knowing there is less exposure for me to something so rampant and damaging when my hours are reduced. Not only these things are helpful, but we share funny videos, tweets, and memes with each other. We have resorted to giving each other the beauty of laughter much more and we have both benefited.

This comforts me — the knowing of having something of necessity at the ready, made by one of my greatest loves . . . It strengthens our connection.

At the perfect moment, she will share with me minutes of senseless videos taken from TikTok and I nearly ball-over in tears. Ten years ago, this would not have been possible. Technology is our gateway to building and maintaining the bonds we have. I am taking advantage of it and so are my family and friends. We are dropping a layer of ourselves to put on another — we needed this more than we care to admit.

My friend Dré knows how much delight I take in children—how deeply moved I am by the sight of them. Children absorb so much. They have a way of shifting one’s salty mood to a more sugary one, and they do it without the full knowledge of how it is being conducted. They simply just do it. Recently, Dré sent me a video via Skype of his three-year-old daughter singing the main track from Frozen while dancing in her “Elsa” dress. To see her spin around and sing from the top of her little lungs, yet maintain control of her presence for her audience, put my mind at ease.

I replayed the video and turned it up and listened to her — expressive with every lyric, and I smiled uncontrollably. She has no clue of the damage being done to our world. She is not aware of the numbers the CDC shares with us regarding the virus and how many it has infected and killed. She is not worried about where her next paycheck will come from or her next meal or her sense of sanity as she grips at it with shaking hands, trying not to lose it. And I, for a lone moment, want to be her.

I thank her father, my friend, for sending her to me — in such rare form. There were seconds where I teared up knowing that for months to come, this may be our lives. We will be living digitally connected to each other, sharing what we need to via various forms of communication other than the tried and true in-person way. While many may think this is informal or not personal at all, I see it as the total opposite.

She is not worried about where her next paycheck will come from or her next meal or her sense of sanity as she grips at it with shaking hands, trying not to lose it. And I, for a lone moment, want to be her.

Instead of my loved ones and I losing control and sinking into the pits of despair, we have found ways to strengthen, maintain, and enhance our friendships. I am grateful for a friend who knows his smiling, singing child could light up his loved one’s life at the exact moment she needed it. I still have the video and I use it as a way to move closer to my center whenever I feel unbalanced during this crazy, ever-changing world of ours.

The power of the pandemic has bullied us and cut us down to size drastically, but the resiliency of our sentient beings is proving to be a willful opponent.

I want to be there at the end of it all. I hope all of you are, too.

© 2020 Tremaine L. Loadholt

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