Forgiveness During COVID-19: We made it through another day
April 23, 2020
Yesterday was an odd day for me. I started it off semi-euphoric. We had solved a complex scheduling conundrum and it will likely improve the lives of all our department Post-Covid19, and that made me euphoric. I composed a third of a Hopeful Wednesday post early morning in that euphoric mood, but did not finish. I have learned with this blog to let the rhythms of life and nature lead me what to write, what to publish and when to just leave things. Since there is no other motive to this blog other than documenting plastic-picking adventures and really giving me an outlet to journal, it is very freeing. So I will leave that post and see if by next Wednesday it can be completed, or needs to go to the half-written blog post graveyard.
As most mood cycles go, that euphoria as I shared my feelings of that triumphant managerial feat via phone with some people at work came crashing down yesterday by the afternoon. I just felt off. Half of the department schedule is not filling and most pediatricians are not yet that busy, but I had a filled schedule of patients in the morning. Patients and I were mutually masks, good handwashing before and afterwards, and we conducted the visits 6 feet apart for most of the encounter. I then did the necessary exam and moved the child over to my nurse – so he could administer the much needed vaccines quickly. It felt almost normal. During my telephone visits with other patients, the parents were all kind and asked me “How are YOU doing?” And I told them, “I fell allright, thank you for asking. It almost felt normal this week.” I continued with our families that we had protections in place, and that Mr. Plastic Picker had mentioned also that we needed to continue with our work and he was worried that postponed mammograms in his department. Our departments were making babysteps to start seeing some well child visits and to get some preventive care imaging and other studies that needed to be done.
But then I was off all afternoon. Something one of the nursing upper managers texted me set me off, and I was a bit irritated. Plastic Picking and memories of what the beach has taught me helped, rather than irritatingly texting back I just typed – “Just call me when you can.” We clarified the issue over phone, but I had been irritated for a good hour and expressed that irritation to Mr. Plastic Picker. Then our daughter was in an off mood. I was home early by late afternoon, and reminded the children that they still had virtual piano lessons. Our piano teacher is very ill. She is the person I am most worried about. She is dying of cancer. Our children wanted to continue virtual piano lessons and our teacher also wanted to continue, so we have been doing them via facetime on Sunday mornings. But she had headaches and nausea last Sunday, and our lesson were postponed until today. Our daughter thrives on routine, so having the lesson at a different time was off-putting.
Both children had their lesson before dinner. Our son is working on a new song the Great Barrier Reef. Usually our piano teacher barks at him with quick high lilting reprimands about note reading and to remember to play “piano not forte” as he tends to bang on the piano. When he was little, I thought that force was a sign of a muscial virtuoso. You can see it irritates our piano teacher. But yesterday she ended with “that was very good” “you have improved a lot” “I can tell you practiced” more than I have ever heard in the past. I have to stand and hold the iphone with the piano keys and his hands in view for our teacher.
Then our daughter’s lesson followed. She had asked to stop lessons about a year ago after seven years. She had been with the same Russian-American teacher since three, and her teacher in her way had adored her. I appreciate how methodic and strict our previous teacher was in her teaching, and our daughter likely needed that structure when she was young. She learned to play the piano, like she learned to read. She was never great at learning each note, but sometimes would skip over certain notes and just would go with whatever note she thought would work. She learned to read in the same way. I know because I taught her how to read. She was look at words and know the letters and sounds, and sometimes with the context of the picture and the situation – she would make it up. That works in reading and she is now an excellent reader, and devours books. With paino, it doesn’t work as well especially if you had the strict instructors we had. I remember our daughter’s previous teacher would look back at me on Thursday afternoons as I was half asleep in the parent’s chair, and reprimand me “It is your job to make her practice.” I would nod and agree quietly, and then we would go home and have a tense ride home and still practice just 3-4 times a week. So our daughter eventhough she was objectively doing well, decided to stop about a year ago.
I can read our daughter’s emotions well. That’s what happens when you spend so much time with someone. I sometimes still hold her at night until she falls asleep, even thought she is taller than me. At those moments I feel her breathing quiet, and feel her descend into dreaming. Her room with it’s brightly pastel colored rug and soft blue toned walls is only a few feet away from ours. When she stirs at night, I bolt straight on up and quietly walk over to check on her. I make sure she is breathing, and I check her forehead. I take her yellow soft blanket that she has loved fiercly since she was a toddler, and I pull it up to around her cheek. Even in sleep, when she feels that soft yellow blanket – it will calm her.
Yesterday was her 4th lesson with her new piano teacher, who has been teaching our son for years. Don’t ask me why, but because of scheduling nightmares at work and at the piano school – they ended up with two different teachers. But they now have the same teacher, and it was our daughters 4th virtual lesson since restarting. They are working on a Minuet and finishing an old song she had half done a year ago.
You can tell that our daugher and our piano teacher who is dying of cancer are more suited with eachother. The teacher’s voice softens when she talks to our daughter, and our daughter is more willing to ask in her quiet voice “Can you explain that again Ms Y?” Our daughter’s note reading has never been stellar, and Ms. Y picked that up quickly. But they are working on that and at the end of the 30 minute lessons – they both have a clear plan on what needs to be done for next week.
After the lesson, our daughter was clearly upset. The lesson had ended on a happy and accomplished note. But our daughter was rolled into a ball into the corner of th sofa set, her face tense. “I practiced all afternoon for that lesson. I don’t have time for anything else now.” I was initially so confused. The minuet is a beautiful piece and I love listening to it. After a back and forth I barked back at her, “I don’t know what you are upset about?!!!” I did what sometimes I should not do. I told her about how I have some patients that have slow internet service, with four children crammed into small apartments, and they are trying to get through this quaratine like us. Those children do not get virtual piano lessons.
She went up to her room. I went jogging with our son, and we had a good talk about his day. And when we got home, our daughter looked better and was sitting at the table with her father, Mr. Plastic Picker, and they were having dinner. My son and I recounted our jog. And that night, I curled up with our daughter in her bed. We went over some language lessons, and she said, “I’m sorry Mommy that I was upset.” I told her half asleep, “It’s okay. It’s a hard time for everyone right now. Ms. Y is very sick.” And I remembered that for everyone this is a hard time. Our piano teacher is dying of breast cancer during a pandemic, and the kids will likely continue piano lessons with her until the end. We will likely not ever see her again except through the iPhone. And yesterday’s lesson Ms. Y’s cell phone reception was fading in and out, and our feed of her piano keys which intermittently fade into those static electric lines. It’s hard to know what your next lesson is, when every half of every sentence drops.
The sun is now up. I have finished my early morning cup of coffee, and the house is stirring. I am looking into the backyard and see the birdhouse I made from an old shoebox. I checked the birdseed in it yesterday, and there are definitely some kind of avian visitors. And I have to shower and get ready for another day and another schedule of children under 2 that are due for vaccines. It almost feels normal, going to work, virtual piano lessons. But it’s not normal. And we got through another day, and I told my daughter and remind myself this morning that it’s okay to have an off day. It’s okay to forgive ourselves for the emotions. We made it through another day of this COVID-19 pandemic.