Do you ever wake up on a Sunday morning and think “wow, that was a crazy week?” Crazy because you were able to fit soooo much into the week, but really don’t remember much of it… This is a common occurrence in many of our lives. Some people talk about being busy as though they are proud that they are busy and are somehow surviving it. Some people talk about being busy as though it is something that they cannot escape. In a matter of a few weeks, this way of life has been flipped over for many. Now we hear people talking about being bored and frantically trying to find the next good Netflix series to binge watch. Meanwhile, healthcare workers and other essential businesses attempt to continue to work in a manner that keeps themselves and others safe. For the workers that are not in “essential” jobs and have been living paycheck to paycheck, the financial stress alone can be overwhelming. It is during times like this that perhaps we are able to gain the most perspective in life…if we take the time to be silent in the midst of chaos and examine our lives.

When the whisperings of COVID-19 first emerged, I found myself straining to remember the many conversations that Michael and I jokingly had many years ago. During his chemo sessions he would entertain himself with a variety of Netflix series. One of the series led him to creating quite the elaborate strategy for a zombie apocalypse😊 I was always much more interested in strategizing how to organize life in such a way that our family could complete our long list of tasks for the week and still fit in a ton of fun. As I made my usual weekly trip to the grocery store on March 13, I realized that the landscape around me was changing rapidly. The canned vegetable isle at Aldi had nothing but creamed corn and beans, while the toilet paper, cleaning product, and water isles were completely empty. As I watched the people around me, I noticed that many seemed to be panic buying large amounts of everything. Our family’s 10-year cancer journey taught me many lessons. One of the most important was to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. We knew the likely end outcome for Michael from his initial diagnosis, but it did not mean that we were not going to fight to make it different…and it definitely did not mean that we were going waste the uncertain amount of time that we did have. Whenever our cancer journey lead us down a new path, we never knew where it would end. However, we always felt better when we had a plan. We agreed that we never wanted to look back an think “what if?” It gives our family a sense of peace at this time to know that we did absolutely everything that we could for Michael. We have no “what ifs.”

So how does this related to our current situation? We have no reason not to be hopeful…not hopeful that life will return to normal. Rather, hopeful that life will return to a new normal. The lessons that we learn from this difficult time, will make us stronger…if we allow it to. We must continue to prepare for what may be even more trying times ahead. We must look to help our neighbors, those less fortunate, and indeed, anyone in need that we are able. We must live in a proactive manner rather than a reactive manner. Why wait until our friends and/or family are sick before we decide to social distance to the max? Why wait for COVID-19 to be surging through our communities to start ordering our groceries online and picking up curbside? Why wait to call that old friend or family member that you haven’t seen in years? If a person is not an “essential worker” this is the time to get some of those projects completed that they have been wishing they had the time to complete. This is the time to take a daily walk, learn a new language, clean out that closet, make a plan for that new business idea, paint the spare bedroom, and most important….spend true quality time with those that live in your house. 

The Brown Family has been working out, organizing bookshelves, cleaning closets, learning how to cook, and spending a lot of time outside. The boys have spent many hours jumping on the trampoline, playing basketball, soccer, riding bikes, coloring with sidewalk chalk, and playing in the treehouse. We cleaned the leaves out of the batting cage, busted out the pitching machine, and hit hundreds of balls. We successfully burnt the leaves without burning down our house, the neighbors houses, or even the tree house that is dangerously close to the fire pool that Michael built. We got the lawnmower running, which required use of the air compressor and jumper cables…yes, scary😳  Jaxson even learned how to mow…a privilege that he has been begging to attain! He completed the mowing adventure with just one large hole in the batting cage net. We can call this a win when comparing it to my lawn mowing saga a few years ago:) Some of you may recall round one of me learning how to use a riding lawn mower following one of Michael’s big surgeries. Perhaps I ran into the tree multiple times, eventually leading to the hood of the mower falling off, perhaps the hood was then run over, and maybe the fence was inadvertently ripped from the posts surrounding the garden. Michael thought this was quite hilarious until the mower literally stopped running:) We just want to give the neighbors some entertainment while they shelter in place!  

As for the cooking, Karter loves to help and he is progressively improving. We find less shells in our eggs each morning and the toast is no longer black. I discovered that Karter can make a pretty mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich….and also that he thinks that it is called a “PPJ.” When I told him it was PBJ, he looked at me like I was crazy:) The boys both helped me make homemade French fries in the air flyer a few nights ago. They liked the French fries much more that the collard greens that we had last night! Nancy O dropped some delicious food off last week and the boys literally cheered. Not even a pandemic can stop Nancy O from cooking! The boys question me frequently regarding why I am not able to make food taste as good as Nancy O. I do have a new recipe that I have been taunting the boys with. We have a neighbor’s cat that has been bringing us mice for the past week, so I have promised our neighbors and the boys a mouse pie😏  

Tomorrow, e-learning/distance learning will resume for the week. We are extremely lucky to have such awesomely ambitious teachers in Germantown Hills. They really have made the process as easy as possible and the boys are both enjoying their learning. However, they definitely both miss their friends and teachers. So in this extreme time of uncertainty, we reach for what is certain. That is the love and compassion of our friends, family, and community. Together we will move forward on this uncharted path where we will come out forever changed. The more we can be prepared and less scared, the more we can learn and grow. If we each do our part, then perhaps we can all make it through this experience without thinking “what if.”

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