Orange Flowers

by Guadalupe Aguilar

Each day may seem like the day before. You don’t know which day of the week it is or even what month you are in. It is day 145 since this pandemic invaded our world, or could it be day 500, it felt like it. Some days I wanted to cry (and I did), some days I just laughed and some days I wanted to scream.

My mental health was off the hook the first couple of weeks, I will admit. I found it hard to breathe. And as the days turned into weeks and then months, I closed my eyes and I acknowledged all that I was feeling-anxiety, stress, a bit panicked and scared. And as I processed these feelings, I transported myself to the ocean and in my mind, I could hear the ocean waves, remembering how the sand felt between my toes. In the ups and downs of this pandemic, there were good days and bad days.

It is important to accept what you are feeling, let it go through you, let it OUT. But through it all, ask yourself what is it that is most important to you. For me, it is my family, husband, sons, extended family, close friends, the treasure of memories of loved ones no longer here.

There were many losses, many tears shed. Families not able to hold their loved ones as they gave their last breath. The pandemic caused havoc on our lives, caused so much isolation, mental fatigue, anguish, desperation. And during COVID-19, we were witness to the murder of George Floyd. Mass protests erupted across our country. People of all walks of life united together chanting “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” Although justice prevailed in this case, it was only a very small step towards justice. There is still a LONG way to go towards true justice.

As the days turned into weeks and weeks into months, I held on. I held on with every ounce of strength I had!  Because somewhere in the tornado of chaos, we knew there was HOPE, we knew there was light breaking through the clouds. The world would begin to breathe again. Throughout 2020, we learned to let go of our selfishness, we broke through the imaginary walls we had built around us. We began to connect with our humanity, our soul. We learned that together we can hold our hands out, reach out and lift each other up. We learned to give of our time, to hold each other, to open our hearts, to appreciate EVERY single day. We learned to appreciate the things that matter most.  Along the way we learned the true value of being “present”, we learned that each day is truly a GIFT.

Let’s hold on, lift each other up, carry those that are weak, hug those that need it most – a COLLECTIVE WORLD hug – is what we all need. Slowly we are breaking through this pandemic and slowly our lives will go back to normal. But as life returns, let’s continue to HOLD on to each other, to our humanity, let’s hold on to our collective soul. Let’s acknowledge that our mental health was off the hook and yet somehow, we found a way through the haze of doubt. We lived, we cried, we felt lost for a bit, but we held on and just kept going. We found ourselves along the way and learned that it is okay to cry, it is okay to not feel okay. So as things in our world go back to “normal,” let us not forget what lessons we learned along the way.  Let’s remember what matters most….