Keep your loved ones even closer. The waters ahead may be rough ones.

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COVID-19 is creating a new world order, a new normal. There’s just no time for enemies any more.

I’ve said “I’m sorry for your loss,” so many times in the last month that my phone’s predictive typing allows me to say the entire sentence once I type the letter I by clicking on the next word it suggests for me, including turning I into I’m. People I barely know, and people I know well, have lost their grandparents, parents, friends and even their children.

The main takeaway for me is to count every moment with those I love as precious. I’m not lucky enough to be isolating with my family, but I am fortunate that I am not alone. Spending time in quarantine and social distancing with my partner has had its ups and downs, but reminds me daily that I love him and want him in my life. Sharing space with my son in law has been eye opening, making me realize, again, all of the truly special things about him and helps me understand, even better, why my daughter chose him as her husband and the father of her children.

Last summer, when my grandchildren were leaving my home after an extended visit, my grandson asked me if this was the last time he would ever see me again. I understood why he asked, having experienced more sudden losses than any child his age ever should, and so, I responded in a way that respected how seriously he meant the question. However, I didn’t feel it in my heart, because there was no reason to think that it could be an issue. Now, every conversation, every visit, every touch, feels as though it could be the last one, and that is a very serious, and very frightening, place to be.

Realizing how fragile this life can be makes me appreciate it more. It also makes me want to hold my loved ones tight, especially that sweet little boy who worries about me surviving his childhood.

How can we hold our loved ones close to us, when we are at such a distance? Some things that are working for me include the usual:

· Phone calls and video chats when we can fit them in

· Texting daily with my daughter to make sure we both stay in the loop

· Facebook and other social media to stay up to date with friends and family

But it’s not enough. I miss them and I want more — more time with them, more access to their daily lives, more opportunities to just laugh together and chill by a campfire.

I can’t have that today, but I can plan for a future that takes into account the new normal that we are all building together. I can stop spending my time and talents on anything that doesn’t serve me, or serve the life I want to build. If I can spend this unscheduled time out planning for a future that is the life I most want to be leading, it will be time well spent.

I will do what is needed by staying as safe as I can, but that’s not enough.

I will create the future I desire by thinking outside the box, by identifying what is really important in my life and what can fall by the wayside. This time, this pause, will be spent “Kondoing” my life. By eliminating those things that are unnecessary, unhelpful or unhealthy, and maintaining the things that are truly needed and those things that bring me joy I will have the best chance of living the life I’ve always wanted.

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Most important, by creating a future that is focused on health and joy, I am creating a future where I can honestly tell my grandchildren that “of course we will see each other, laugh with each other, hug one another, again.” And I will do my best to make sure it’s true.

Writer, poet, gardener, life-long learner, warrior for children, lover of faerie, freedom, and joy. She/her/hers.

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