It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”—

Yesterday I shut down my little work area. With public food service being limited, I will enjoy some time off. Before leaving, I spent three hours scrubbing, sanitizing, and storing supplies. I went through food supplies to determine how to mitigate losses. With some foresight in this happening, I had limited our food inventory. Our hospitality staff, fortunately, is comprised of retired and second job employees, so, for now, there is no pressing financial impact to my people. I feel fortunate this is the case. I recognize that is not indicative of the bigger picture.

I have sat down to write about my thoughts on the pandemic multiple times and I can’t seem to find a line of thinking that packages into a perfect blog topic. In unexpected times, I guess perfectly packaged articles are being done, but I am finding myself so conflicted in my thoughts, I scarce can make a sentence without meandering into multiple ideas.

I never dreamed I would have all my children back home under one roof for a lengthy period. Noah is due to graduate college the first of May. Mac has signed an apartment lease for August. Mols is graduating high school. Yet, this past week, all seven of us have sat at the table, eating meals unhurried by extra-curricular cancellations. We have played games, had long talks, watched movies, and breathed in the same air. It has been the best of times.

A child with severe anxiety has been struggling to balance fear and panic. As their Dad and I have continued to work, this has been a struggle. The very sight of us purchasing medicine and supplies for the just in case has lead to attacks on the stability and peace that have been hard fought for. It has been the worst of times.

This morning I slept until 7:00. I cuddled with Nathan and enjoyed a long stretch before leisurely rolling out of bed. This is not something I have been able to do in four years. Working early mornings allows me the flexibility of being fully available to my homeschooled children and their activities, while also contributing to the financial stability of our family of three college students. The only problem in that perfectly suited job is I am a night owl. I get very little sleep. For the next few weeks, I will bask in nights of full rest. It will be the best of times.

There is loss in the air as my college student children are having to leave their campuses, their friends and their activities. I think they recognize the bigger picture, but it no less feels a significant loss, especially to my graduating senior. There will likely be no ceremonies. There will be no final Spring Formals, nor last days of hanging out on campus before the reality of adulthood comes in a cap and gown that will just hang in a closet except for a picture to memorialize the accomplishment. It is a loss fully felt, but likely not mourned properly for fear of being accused of being over-dramatic. Jonesy and I are trying to give permission to grieve the loss while also trying to encourage a spirit of optimism. It is a tango of conflicting emotions. I’m not sure we know the steps. It is the worst of times.

I feel the weight of setting a tone of joy within the walls that temporarily confine us. I also feel the dichotomy of the situation at war . I think it is important to allow there to be a slow release in the feelings that come in the moments which fall into the worst of times, so there is room for the best of times to gain ground. And as Dickens reminds: Business!! There is many a project to do, both school related and home. But the business of actively loving this family of mine will be the best use of my time. And so I rise to set my hands to the business of pointing out the joy that is abundant. It may be hiding behind the clouds of disappointment, but there it sits, waiting to be consumed and shared.

Courage, dear miss! Courage! Business! The worst will be over in a moment; it is but passing the room-door, and the worst is over. Then, all the good you bring to him, all the relief, all the happiness you bring to him, begin. Let our good friend here, assist you on that side.

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