This Is Not the Time to Give Up

Don't give up
We may be weary, but we cannot quit. (Photo courtesy Canva)

Till now, we have hesitated to say much about the pandemic because we know it is a hot-button issue that has polarized communities the world over. Still, as I write this, more than 2 million people have died from the Coronavirus, with the vast majority of those being here in the United States. With more than 97 million confirmed cases worldwide, the numbers are still climbing and they are staggering. This is no longer a virus that only affects people in other countries, nor is it an exaggeration, a hoax, or fake news. It is just the facts.

COVID-19 has touched all our lives. It has changed the way we exist, limited our travel, altered the way we shop, attend faith services, gone to school, and met with our coworkers. It has delayed weddings, cut us off from loved ones in hospitals and nursing facilities, and prevented us from saying goodbye to those who have died unless we can watch their memorial services on Zoom. Most of all, it has stolen family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and others from every one of us without discrimination. But we cannot stop fighting. We cannot close our eyes to this new reality because it is inconvenient. Now more than ever, it is imperative to stay vigilant, to protect ourselves and our neighbors, to stay safe.

We know all of this is taxing. Believe me, we all feel it. We miss hosting gatherings for friends, cooking up a storm and laying out a spread for hungry guests. And hugs, wow do we miss hugs! We are both huggers, and to not even be able to be in the same room with the people who rejuvenate us is disheartening. We miss that human contact so much, and yet we are grateful we have one another, and our little dog, Henry, who is always happy to give us cuddles. Yet we are the among the lucky ones. We have so many friends who are all alone. They work from home. They have no pets, no family, no roommates. For them, these times have been especially challenging. Then there are our friends who are healthcare workers, first responders, educators, and others on the front lines who are working hard to keep the world turning in every way they can, even as they watch patients and students and colleagues fall victim to the virus all around them. Their hearts break a little more every day, and yet they keep plodding along, putting one foot in front of the other, shelving their grief until later because they know others still rely on them to keep going, one exhausted step at a time.

One of our favorite authors, Danielle Steel, wrote in her recent blog post, “Peace I leave you with,” that during a very dark period of her own life, when her marriage had ended and her son had died, she’d been told that sometimes our lives resemble a messy closet. The only way to clean it up is to empty it out, get rid of things that have outlived their purpose, and reorganize. But doing so means making a bigger mess as we triage, living in the midst of chaos for a bit longer, until everything goes back into the closet, pretty and organized, just the way Martha Stewart would like it. I love that metaphor because it is so visual (and because I love an organized home), but also because it made me pause and think, “Okay, I can do that.” After all, I’ve always liked putting in the work needed to tidy up a home, even though it usually involves lots of sweat, labor, and tired muscles. The result is always worth the effort.

And let’s face it, no matter how organized we are, our collective “closets” are a hot mess right now, aren’t they? Even though most of us are currently dealing with a mess that isn’t of our own making, here we are, like irritated parents, finding ourselves having to clean it up anyway. Before the pandemic, people frequently worked together physically, especially in the aftermath of large scale tragedies like Hurricane Katrina, the wildfires in California, or in the aftermath of 9/11. But now working together means staying apart, and it goes against our nature, because as a species we tend to find reasons to congregate since we draw strength from one another and bolster one another up. We think that is what is most difficult this time around, and yet it is vital for our survival.

A musician friend of ours posted a story today on Facebook about a wedding party with 400 guests that was broken up by authorities in the UK. Our friend was outraged, and rightfully so, by the selfishness of the people who all came together for the celebration. And while we all understand the need and desire for life to carry on as usual, it simply isn’t smart or feasible to do so right now. Weddings and parties and, sadly, even funerals, have all turned into virtual events out of necessity. It’s not the way most of us would prefer to attend such events, and yet it is imperative that we do so if we are ever to stamp out this virus, or at the very least, reign it in so thousands more don’t have to get sick and die.

This is a time for healing and compassion, a time to protect ourselves and our families, our communities and ultimately, our world. The Bible urges us to have tender compassion and love for one another. Staying home, washing our hands, social distancing, wearing our masks, and getting vaccinated when we have the opportunity are the ways all of us can demonstrate those qualities right now. Sure, it’s not the hug we would love to give, the laugh we would like to share, or the smile we would like to see. But we can use our words, and ultimately our actions, to show we care, something we have seen people do time and again over the years, especially when situations have been at their most dire. We can’t quit now.

We keep you and your families in our thoughts and prayers, especially all those hard at work to bring this pandemic to an end. Until we can throw away our masks and envelop one another in a great big bear hug, our virtual hugs will have to suffice. We wish you all good health and moments of joy to buoy you through. But we promise to keep doing our part too, sharing great books with you to entertain you while you social distance and delicious recipes to nourish you and hopefully make you forget your troubles, even if for just a little while. Hang in there! Together, we can do this.

With love,
Jathan & Heather

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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