It’s a warm sunny afternoon, a week before the official arrival of spring. Wild crocuses and daffodils are erupting from the fresh soil, and the cherry blossoms have started painting neighbourhoods in a blushing pink hue. The birds are nesting and celebrating the arrival of a new season of hope and life in song – a season we desperately need.
My girlfriend and I sip wine beneath a blue sky, enjoying our first meeting together in almost a year. It doesn’t escape my notice that it was one year ago, almost to the date, when the world as we knew it shut down just as Mother Nature was coming to life. We took shelter in the safety of our homes. Everything about our daily lives changed. We had food delivered to our door, worked from home, had virtual medical appointments, and went for long solitary walks under the shadows of twilight. In our down time, my husband and I sat on the patio, read by the light of the setting sun, and named the spiders on our deck. It was a time of quiet uncertainty.
We adapted and learned to live in a changing pandemic world. We discovered how powerful the little things could be in our lives. Self-care became crucial as we tried to drive away the stress and worry that contributed to flares in our disease. We took extra precautions, embraced patience, and waited for that first glimmer of hope that would bring back a little bit of certainty to our ephemeral lives. The introduction of a new vaccine brought a new set of anxiety – we were already worried about Covid and how well our immune systems could protect us, and now we worried about the vaccine, wondering if it would support or impede the little immunity we have. The chronic illness community was left to hang out on the ledge a little while longer, waiting for answers…
It took a few months for us to catch up with the echoes of hope the rest of the world already heard, but now it’s here, and ours for the taking if we want it. We still need to embrace patience and move forward with care. Some of us are still sitting on the brink, wondering which way the world will tilt, but the heart does feel lighter these days, knowing we are moving in a new direction. There are still many battles to fight as we prepare to inch back into a society we used to call normal, but the definition has changed. Normal is not ordinary or regular anymore – it’s a fluid, shifting creature, that changes with our minds and bodies, and that’s okay. If we’ve learned anything living with chronic illness it’s that the standard definition of normal never fit in the puzzle of our lives.
It’s one year later, spring has arrived again, and our world is blooming back to life. I wake in the morning to spring rain cleansing the earth outside my window. The air smells different now, infused with a new vitality. Every year Mother Nature returns to remind us that life not only endures but transforms. I am hopeful that we will be able to embrace the world again in its new reincarnation.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.