What to write when there's nothing to write

A few weeks ago I was watching Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood on Facebook Live, and I was thinking about how amazing it was that artists and musicians and writers were using this time of quarantine and global pandemic to create something new, to spread love and awareness and weren't we all going to emerge from this so much better?

I'm writing this today, weeks later, listening to the ever-present noise of YouTube Kids, across the room from my engineer husband working on his computer, three days after leading Easter worship over livestream from this same room for the first time ever, and I'm pretty certain that my brain is mush and my hope has taken a vacation, something none of us are doing anymore.

Over a month ago, I visited some of my church's assisted living residents just before our state began to shut down over Covid-19. I called them again yesterday for an update, and they were healthy and smart as ever, but they were also getting sad.

Both in their 90s, vibrant and capable, these two women said all activities have been shut down. They have to stay in their rooms almost all the time, even for mealtime.

And even having said that, I know both women are happy to cooperate and grateful not to have spread of Covid in their facility. They know they're at particular risk. In fact, the assisted living center across the street from my house has at least one confirmed case.

I was terribly sick for about a month from early February to early March. I had several days of 101+ fever, a terrible deep cough and runny nose and so. much. phlegm. At the time, Covid-19 was something you only got if you had a connection to China. So despite ongoing illness, once my fever passed, I resumed frequent travel and visitation, taking five domestic round-trip flights for book events in early 2020 before mid-March, when everything changed. Probably it was the flu, even though I did have a flu shot. Hopefully I didn't infect anyone. I was as careful as I could be, before we knew what being careful could be.

My early enthusiasm has admittedly faded into something like complacency or helplessness. Last week I cried because my husband was going to have to travel across the country to work on an emergency Covid hospital facility, and my parents couldn't eat Easter meal with us -- and even when I cried I was ashamed of crying over something so facile, when I watched medical workers tell of sharing ventilators, and watching people die, and I knew close friends who walked into that reality each day as nurses and doctors and medical workers and delivery workers and grocery store employees.

We're doing fine with home school and work-from-home and no more child care of any kind. In fact, we're doing so fine that I found myself browsing a sweatshirt online with this graphic:

It's fine. I'm fine. Everything is fine.

Here we are. Easter is over. I haven't had communion with my church in more than a month. My April travel to Seattle and Northern California was canceled. I canceled a phone call with my book agent because my new proposal relies heavily on reporting travel and I have no clue what I should even say anymore about America, hope, and God.

In the early days the writing felt so powerful and words felt like they could matter, but even in Coronavirus world words and facts are twisted each and every single day. People are out of work and out of money and relief programs are overwhelmed. Aren't we all. And no one knows what words are true and what words are false or irrelevant.

So maybe today my words don't matter. Words are cheap. But there's snow on the ground and it's mid-April and bills are due and my kids haven't fought too much today and I'm even wearing jeans.

I'm here. I'm alive. Three days ago, we remembered that Jesus rose again. Sort of like Christmas in Who-ville without presents and without the Roast Beast.

I don't have words of hope today but I do have faces of hope. They're your faces and the faces of my family. A commitment that our lives matter to each other, no matter what we say.

The snow on the roof is melting slowly and the trees are budding. I heard we might have baseball on the Fourth of July.


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