November 6, 2020 at 12:28 am (Uncategorized)

I am trying to follow through on a resolution. Rather than write less formal material in my Facebook posts and save my blog for more put-together pieces (that I never write), I’d like to start using my blog as a place to share thoughts, develop ideas, and hopefully have a dialogue. (Plus, it will keep me off Facebook more.)

Since I last updated my blog, a lot has changed in my life. I know Covid has brought all sorts of unwanted changes to so many of us. After consulting with my sarcoidosis experts, I made the gut-wrenching decision to move out of my family home. Since August I’ve been in an apartment that’s a ten-minute drive from Jay and Andrew. Given my underlying illness and immunosuppression, it was too risky for me to be around my husband and teenager without locking them down totally. If you’re interested, you can read about this decision in an essay I recently published in Montana Parent You’ll need to scroll through the digital version of the magazine to find my piece.

Although I am sad and angry to be on my own, I am trying every day to be grateful. I still get to see Jay and Andrew, though it’s getting more difficult to go for walks or eat dinner outside together now that winter has arrived in Montana. I remind myself that I have good health insurance and (for now) protections for my pre-existing conditions. I don’t have to show up for a job that could literally kill me. I am fortunate that we have the resources to keep me physically safe. Millions of other Americans like me with additional risk factors for Covid don’t. Jay still has good work. I live in a place where I can easily access natural beauty without running into a lot of people. I have good friends who check in with me and help keep me steady.

I think it is possible to be grateful and to grieve at the same time. I can count my blessings and still mourn losing time with my son in the last couple of years before he leaves home. I’ve already lost too much time, with all those long hospitalizations and years of sickness. I worry what will happen to my marriage. It was wonderful to be able to hike again this summer with Jay. But now what? I come over and we watch TV some evenings, across the room from one another, each wearing masks. We FaceTime before we go to sleep in our separate beds across town. Sure we talk. But marriage is rooted in casual physical intimacy. It is about standing shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen doing dishes or reading next to one another in bed, as much as it is about thoughts and feelings. I miss the specific smell of Jay’s skin. I miss the sense of his warm protection next to me in the night. What if we get out of the habit of one another and fall into a weird formality?

Like all Americans of good conscience (sorry anti-maskers, you’re officially uninvited from this community), there’s nothing I can do but keep moving forward as best I can amid this chaos, fear and loss, holding onto my gratitude as tightly as I can in one hand and letting my grief and fear be exposed to light in the other.

I’ve said a few times over the many years that I’ve posted here that “we all live in Chronic Town.” Covid has proved me right. Over one-third of all Americans are at greater risk from this disease. We all know someone who is vulnerable, who we don’t want to lose to Covid. Many of the topics I’ve explored since 2006 now seem relevant to all of us who care to recognize the reality of this pandemic. How do we keep moving forward when pieces of our identity have fallen away? How do we cope with loneliness? How do we maintain relationships when we can’t actually see or touch those we love? How do we live as fully as possible even though we are missing so much? How do we recalibrate to a new normal when we don’t want to? During my 16 years with systemic sarcoidosis, I was forced to accept realities I chafed against. My life had changed irrevocably. My future looked different than the one I had planned and worked for. I had to live with a new normal I resented. I wanted the old me in my old world back. Don’t we all.

My residency in Chronic Town hasn’t conferred me with special wisdom—perhaps more practice, but only to keep learning the same lessons over and over again. What saved me repeatedly was love—for and from my husband and son, for and from my family and Jay’s, for and from friends. They gave me a reason to keep trying to make sense and do my best in a strange world I resisted inhabiting. They gave me courage to try after making mistakes.

And now it’s 2020 and they’re doing it again for me. I’m in a new configuration because of Covid, but the same lessons apply. One step follows another. We’ll all get through this if we care enough and try enough. I am sure we can. But will we do it? Will we as a society and a nation care enough to see us all through?

Let’s talk about that next time.


  1. Martha Kohl said,

    So beautiful!

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Thanks, Martha!

  2. Dorothy said,

    Really happy to see you back on your blog rather than Facebook!

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Yea, less things on FB are good for our society.

  3. Miriam said,

    Thanks for doing this for me 🙂

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      You know, you gave me the tiny push I needed. So thank you! I felt such self-loathing for my time on FB, and this is better anyway. It was great to see you briefly last night.

  4. Norane Freistadt said,

    What a heartfelt essay that we can all learn from, Rebecca. You expressed so many sentiments that pertain to each of our lives, living through this Covid together. Thanks for giving the gift of insights!

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Thank you so much, Norane!

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