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blue, abstract figurative, contemporary figurative, oil painting,

by Shelby McQuilkin

I don’t know if it has anything to do with Covid-19, all these mixed emotions that swell and rage and dissipate, often within a single day. But I think this lock-down acts like a incubator to warm and feed and grow them with no release valve.

It’s okay not to be okay, I’ve heard. That’s a relief.

First the joy: Singing and dancing with my granddaughter, listening to her laughter, feeling her fly-by hugs, snuggling while we read to each other. A trip to the beach to see the elephant seals, catching tadpoles in a creek.

Then the grief: Son missing. Haven’t heard from him in a month. So unlike him. Called the jail, the hospitals, the homeless shelters, (not the morgue). Called his friends. Only one responded. She went to look for him where he’d last hung out by the riverside. But he’s not there, she said. Mostly it’s been cleared out, the tent city where the homeless reside.

I think: Even if he called, how could I help him? What could I say beyond I love you, get help, get well, stay safe, be strong, don’t give up, fight to get your life back. And then a week would go by with no word from him, and another, and another, and then I’m back to where I am now. When does it end? And in a way that doesn’t tear me apart?

Then there’s the in-between, all that lies between joy and grief:  Can’t write, can’t paint, no time to myself. Homeschooling stretching out 4, 5, 6 hours a day. Constant worry about the virus, the isolation, the welfare of the nation, our democracy under Trump, my daughter and son-in-law trying to survive their lock-down, working from home. The court hearing for guardianship postponed again. My husband disengaged, rattling around the house trying to stay out of the way, trying to keep busy. Both of us eating too much. Tired all the time.

A major wedding anniversary comes and goes, un-celebrated. Unless home-delivered pizza and chocolate cake count.

A few good books and movies to distract us. Downton Abby movie last night, Ozark series last week.  The Last Kingdom starting soon. The Immortalists by Cloe Benjamin, The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles. Escaping to other worlds.

Silly jokes and hilarious videos passed friend to friend by email.

Roses blooming, pool warming, frogs in full concert during the evening hours. Green hills, blue skies, wild flowers everywhere.

I’m blogging again. That’s something. First time in weeks.

So much to be grateful for midst the worry and grief. We have it better than most. How are you faring in this surreal landscape of Covid-19?