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Thoughts from Quarantine

March 21, 2020
by Becky Ferrigno

I am a teacher, a mom, a wife, a friend, a girl who was looking forward to months of new adventures. I am in mourning.

I realized this last night when I watched Frozen 2 and sobbed through Into the Unknown. The 5th-grade chorus is practicing this song, or at least they were up until this week. Chorus council unanimously chose it, and given that they are leaving me in June to venture to a new school, it seemed like a perfect choice. And now that is gone. I miss my students and the fun we have daily. They are more than my students, they are my children, and we are losing out on precious moments. And I am not just sad; I am grieving.

My son is five, and I just registered him for Kindergarten. He will most likely not have preschool graduation or get to participate in Kindergarten Orientation. These missed events will change the beginning of his school-age career. He won’t know any difference, but I will. I am heartbroken.

My daughter turns 7 in April, and she is working through how different her birthday will be this year. She is processing her feelings loudly as she walks around downstairs and talks to her brother. I turn 40 this year, and my big plans are up in smoke. For this, I am sad and pissed. In the grand scheme, this change of situation is minimal. We can recreate these plans, but I am giving myself time to feel all of these mixed up emotions.

I know we are lucky. We are safe, and we have what we need. For most of the day, I live in this emotion. But every morning, when I wake up, I have decided to give myself time to live in my mourning. To acknowledge it, to release it, and when I am ready, move on to fill the new roles I am filling, 1st-grade teacher, seamstress, long-distance music teacher, virtual daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, and colleague. Until we acknowledge and sit with our sadness, our work is not coming from a place of truth. Instead, it will originate from a place of panic-induced forced positivity. This will not be sustainable for the long haul and I know my delicate orchid felt that all week in my energy.

I wrote this not to receive “It’ll get better,” “Hang in there,” comments but to make sure people know it is OK to leave space for mourning. Our quarantine will pass, and we will return to our lives. It will provide us with stories to tell for years. But for right now, March sucks. We have friends losing businesses, and I live in constant fear that somehow my immunocompromised husband and son will end up with this deadly illness. I worry I won’t be able to do enough to keep them safe. So I am sitting daily with my grief and fear, and when it subsides, I do my best to do good. I encourage you to do the same. Try to be a positive light. To thrive instead of surviving. Stay well and stay safe. And don’t forget to WASH YOUR HANDS!

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