It’s been hard to let myself feel lately.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t written in such a long time. Writing requires grappling with not only your own emotions, but the emotions of others. And that just hasn’t been something I’ve been able to do.
On top of the death and sorrow I encounter everyday as a nurse, this pandemic has taken it to an entirely different level. The anticipation dread. The fear for my loved ones. The exhaustion with the politics surrounding it. The senseless death. The phone calls to update families that often can’t see their loved ones. The social isolation as I desperately need community that just isn’t there without me feeling as though I’m putting them at risk.
It’s just been too much. I haven’t let myself process emotions surrounding this time. I’ve been in emotional overload and completely shut down.
Autopilot can keep me alive, at least. But it doesn’t mean I’m living.
And the living part is what’s damn hard when it’s secluded to the walls of an apartment, reduced to existence with a eight month old, cat, dog, and husband. Living is hard when there’s nowhere to go that feels completely safe, nowhere we can just relax. And living is hard when your job consists of death, tragedy, and sorrow.
I’m realizing some experiences stick with you forever. Some change who you are fundamentally, down to your core. I’ve always felt that being a nurse has done that.
And, if I’m honest, I’ve never felt that it was in a good way.
I see too much death to feel the sorrow surrounding it. I see too much sorrow to feel empathy. For what feels like years the autopilot has bothered me and made me feel less than human. Like I’m not the kind of nurse I wanted to be; not the kind of person I wanted to be. But I didn’t know how to stop it, I didn’t and sometimes still don’t know how to change.
But recently, as I’ve been working through my emotions. I’ve found that this isn’t really the case.
Because the sorrow is there. Even when I don’t believe it is. Even when I can’t feel it, I still do.
Because I remember every loss and every name and every sorrow and every heartbreak.
Every phone call. Every lost loved one.
Every compression, every cracked rib, every drip of sweat on my brow.
I remember them all as vividly as if they had happened yesterday.
They are all still with me. They will never leave. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe I just need to allow myself to mourn. To let the numbness fade and allow the sorrow to be.
Because that’s the kind of person, the kind of nurse, I always wanted to be.
And grief has a purpose.
Grief reminds us that we should cherish those around us.
The mourning reminds us to kiss and hug our loved ones every waking moment that we can.
Life is fleeting, and every moment that we have with one another is precious.
That’s why living, and feeling, are so damn important. Even when those things feel like luxuries for another time, one less wrought with sorrow and loss and fear.
But in fact, if were ever there were a time when these things are actually necessities, it is now.
Because there’s no guarantee of tomorrow.
There never has been.