There is such beauty that arises when we simply smile at our children’s faces. Their roaring belly laughs, their absolute delight in catching snowflakes on their tongues on an early February afternoon, and their joyful playground adventures just a few days prior when the weather graced us with sunshine and a peek into the hopeful Spring ahead of us.
This is the hope I find so uplifting when we find ourselves inside for another month of Winter, countless more work from home days or online remote schooling, and the constant and often debilitating task of reminding our children and, even ourselves, of what is “normal” in our current days.
We have all made sacrifices, some seemingly small ones that ended up benefiting us in the end, such as shifting our accustomed workspaces to managing them at home (I am definitely writing this in pajamas right now, and several of my patients can attest that in our telemedicine calls, I have admitted to wearing yoga pants and slippers). These are the life-shifts that were initially difficult but have taught me to find the silver lining—my snowflake—when the weathered storm of the pandemic seemed unending.
Then, there have been the larger sacrifices, where we have missed weddings, funerals, reunions and have been streaming community services instead of having the fellowship of in-person connections so many of us long to have. We have stayed away from immunocompromised and elderly family members; we have altered our comfortable and mentally-stabilizing routines. We have lost loved ones. We have lost too many.
As a family medicine physician, my biggest joy is forming bonds and connections with families who come to visit with me at my clinic. I have thrived by learning their stories, sharing in their successes, oohing and aahing over the photos of their newest grandchild, and by celebrating their life paths.
This past year has been a different story. We now lament over canceled vacations or lost jobs. We discuss fears of getting ill, the uncertainty of treatment, or struggling to receive a vaccine. We pause in silence to try to understand why mental health has become a heightened concern when it was never affecting them in the past. We cry together over loved ones’ death and hug through words instead of tangible ones as we can no longer physically embrace.
My heart as a physician has been weighted with the pain I have witnessed, it hurts along with my patients, and it longs to heal the broken pieces any way I possibly can. Yet, there is still glistening hope. There is still that glorious snowflake of courage we are all seeing in our skies and trying desperately to run toward to catch. Our community has rallied, we have strengthened, and we have uplifted one-another. As the days of Winter eventually slow, and we run toward the sunshine of the future, my message to all families and all individuals longing to see the relief we so desperately pray will come is this: We will prevail, the sun will shine, we will celebrate those belly laughs again—this time in physical embrace.
Erika Visser Aragona is a family physician.
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