Category: Life Lessons


In the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross five stages of death, Depression is fourth. In this stage, one is likely to feel like withdrawing from life, feel numb, live in a fog, and not want to get out of bed. That wasn’t me. As subtle as it was, my stage was able to poke hole my otherwise stable façade.

To the normal reader, one may look at the event and say, “Why the fuss?” However, to all-knowing inner soul, it was “Reality bites.” At 4:38 PM, standing over a cutting board with knife in hand, ready to chop a white onion, my hand shook so bad I nearly couldn’t perform the task.  I looked like a construction worker using a jack hammer to cut vegetables.

Stage four started a few days ago with internal tremors in the legs and bradykinesia, a slowness of movement or impaired ability to move as commanded (like chopping vegetables. Frustrating, because I’ve spent a lot time making everything appear “normal.” Yet, I placed my knife on the kitchen counter, sat and in a chair and realized that I don’t know what normal is.

I had only a few weeks post-diagnosis before the Coronavirus struck hard and either forced everyone to place life on hold or work like crazy. Being in the later, I’ve kind of buried the deepest feelings. It was the first time I experienced any anxiety. In the several hours thereafter, I am beginning to understand something larger, bigger, and more determined is about to happen to me.

What if the façade fails and I must out myself? There are other things that take precedence over me. Certainly, my father’s stroke and potential death is significant. My mother’s care is critical, not to mention the subsequent estate settlement. Personally, I’ve had a tumor, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and now Parkinson’s.

As I sat looking out the window, I realized how tired I am. Tired of being sick. Tired of being in pain. Just plain tired. I suppose the fact that one’s body is trying to either make you miserable or kill you will, in fact, make one really depressed. I haven’t thought about mortality in any sense. I mean I have thought about it, maybe I haven’t processed it. Then again, we’ve all gone through some tough things–many a lot worse than I.

Outside of this moment in my life, I’ve been lucky. I’ve traveled well, seen places most will never see, had many a great love, and experienced God first hand. From a Buddhist perspective, what more could I ask? Sure, my hands and legs are beginning to fail, but I can write. And write I will.

As death approaches, Buddhists are taught to think about their holy writings. Focusing upon the Buddha’s teachings is supposed to bring good luck to a new existence. I will not focus upon superficial images of happiness, material and sensual pleasures, or technological innovation. At this point of my life, I am focusing upon whatever love available. I believe only true love will transcend death.

Thus, for a person who has awareness of death, every moment becomes a lesson in death and a lesson of love. Every moment should be viewed as being infinitely precious, and we should make the utmost effort to use our time to the best advantage.

In theory, every day is a gift. Actor Richard Evans said, “It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” And true to Evans’ words, I have witnessed tremendous kindness and generosity. 

A Buddhist would say our Coronavirus times should remind us of what is essential: Grandparents, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and family. More importantly, is there a call to review personal responsibility? While Presidents, CEO’s and our state leaders speak, cite statistics, and map out a post-COVID world, are we morally and ethically making the ‘right’ sacrifices? As we celebrate Memorial Day, would those (the “Greatest Generation”) agree that this generation is sacrificing anything?

I worry we’re not.

Tom Brokaw referred to the “Greatest Generation” as those men and women of the Great Depression, who had watched their parents lose their businesses, farms, jobs, and hopes and went directly into uniform into the military to fight tyranny. Brokaw noted that very stage of their lives, they were part of historical challenges and achievements of a magnitude the world had never before witnessed and credits them with much of the freedom and affluence we experience today.

It wasn’t all good. As many noted, during the early pre-war years against Germany, the government asked more of the public as the nation shifted to an all-out war footing. Like today, defiance of the government’s dictates was not uncommon across ideological boundaries. Just as early appeals to gather scrap metal for munitions production were ignored, today, we find it difficult to social distance and wear a face mask. And just as the Roosevelt administration’s plea for nonstop factory fostered strikes and work stoppages, I can only imagine how a person making more in unemployment than working will become motivated to sacrifice.

While American patriotism and wartime fervor played essential roles in successes, it was active leadership from the Roosevelt administration, especially its rhetoric and propaganda, which secured the buy-in. Today, we have an administration weaponizing division, promoting bogus health prevention (hydroxychloroquine) and refusing to explain what is needed and why.

We have failed to adopt clear, consistent, repeated messaging to encourage Americans in the battle required to slow coronavirus’ spread. I looked at the photos from Osage Beach, Missouri. Osage Beach is in the ‘Lake of The Ozarks.’ I am unsurprised by the crowded bars and disregard for social distancing. Yet, these people will beg medical clinicians to make every effort to save them, while simultaneously professing how innocent they are and how they did nothing wrong. 

The Atlantic summarized my thoughts well.

Some people who carried on with their nonessential weekend outings shared their rationale with reporters. One 40-year-old who went with a friend to their favorite bar on Sunday explained to the Los Angeles Times, “This could be the last bar we go to in a long time.” In Boston, a man in line at a bar with an hour-long wait reasoned to a Boston Globe reporter that, as a pharmacist, he was already going to have a high risk of exposure at work anyway, so “there’s only so much I can do” to avoid the virus. And one compassionate, though still risk-taking, D.C. diner told Washingtonian, “As long as businesses are open and the condition doesn’t worsen, I want to support those folks depending on patrons to make their living.

Writer Joe Pinsker noted, “These are extremely weak justifications for a choice that ultimately puts one’s short-term social enjoyment ahead of the health—and maybe even lives—of countless people who are more vulnerable to the disease. Beyond lacking clear and forceful guidance from President Trump and his administration, … people have failed to apprehend the gravity of the outbreak and the importance of staying in.

What happened to Memorial Day 2020? For first responders, clinicians, and rescue personnel across the country, sorrow will intertwine with pride of service and sacrifice. For those in Osage Beach and others with the same mentality, F••• it. It’s Miller Time.

Unfortunately, I see darker skies on the horizon.

There are a haunting feeling untold numbers of Americans who must decide whether to risk Coronavirus (COVID) infection while traveling to see a parent dying from natural causes. Such experiences are reminders of the unanticipated scope of the suffering caused by COVID. 

Sons and daughters are forced to make risky choices, either by love or distance. Should they be allowed to visit? And will they be the exception, the one who can travel across and not become infected?

Three days ago, the call I’d been expecting for several years came. After a long battle of successive mini-strokes, my father’s time is nearing an end. The latest stroke occurred Monday morning, and cost my father the use of his left side as well as other functions, but his humor remains. There aren’t any good options, damned if you do something, damned if you don’t.

It’s a natural part of life,” said the neurologist doctor.

I know. Losing a parent is inevitable, and it isn’t easy,” I replied. 

In the COVID world, it’s hard to describe how complicated such a decision is. If I travel, I could carry the virus to my mother, age 82. If I don’t go, I presume my name will be added to the immortal “primadonna list” for not being concerned enough to say a final farewell. There isn’t a safe choice, except for one: don’t travel.

The COVID pandemic has had a profound effect on grieving. Many who’ve lost loved ones have been unable to be at the bedside as their loved one passed. Death becomes remote. There’s no herd immunity for COVID. There’s no airplane, taxi, bus, boat, or other vehicles that can guarantee a barrier from the virus. Likewise, COVID cannot be segregated from my mother or others.

I looked up to God and muttered, “I probably will not be able to say goodbye.

Like my father, people have been dying alone for centuries. Some have no close friends or families. Distance separates others. In those cases, a volunteer may be able to sit with them during their last moments. My father has two people sitting with him, each taking a twelve-hour shift, holding his hand, and asking them what they loved most. It’s a service I will be forever grateful.

My father always said no one dies alone. After his near-death experience twenty years ago, my father said there were two sets of angels: ‘Helpers’ and ‘Takers.’ Helpers are those that assist those in need during trying times. Takers are those that help those move into the hereafter.

My Lord, can you be with him?” I prayed

I am with all who suffer. I am with your father.

Not a second later, “I will go and stay with him,” Ms. K. said.

I’m convinced my father has a volunteer, God, and a Helper. I presume he’ll have a Taker soon enough. That alone provides enormous comfort. I hope we’re all just as lucky.

Upon waking, I marvel at how my back feels, how natural the rhythm of the first few hours are, and how naively I think I could do it forever. Such feelings last an hour, maybe two. After that, I quickly relearn the cumulative effects from an early February tumor removal and Parkinson’s diagnosis. 

In the cool of the pre-sunrise morning, when I’ve had a good night’s sleep, all seems well. As the day wears on, weariness smolders the day, and that beautiful early morning feeling evaporates. Life becomes weightier, and every step begins to take its toll. My neck and back hurt, I fiddle with chairs aiming for a stable fit, and comfortable position. Yet no matter how much I tinker, I remain uncomfortable for the day.

Most cancer follow-up appointments remain canceled. As the W.H.O. noted, many patients with cancer are struggling to receive treatment due to hospitals canceling or delaying surgeries and other procedures. This includes those patients who are otherwise healthy and have curable diseases that require the timely implementation of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. Contracting COVID while undergoing treatment is too high a risk as opposed to cancer slowly eating away your life, one day at a time.

I have the utmost respect for my medical team. When I’ve texted (usually about medication), they’ve responded and provided care. However, it seems strange to be standing in the cancer wing of the hospital, updating their applications, with full knowledge that I cannot gain access to very services that can verify my prognosis. No matter how much I understand Coronavirus’s impact, I feel caught in a Rod Sterling “Twilight Zone” episode.

Walking the hallways, working from home, or looking out to the lakefront, I notice how the world has stopped. Driving through the subdivisions, I note, “… even in this place where time stands still; it seems like everything is moving. Including me (Heinrich Harrer).”

The ‘new normal’ is strange: things once marking the days—commuting to work, meetings, projects, and having a drink with coworkers, vanished. Time appears flat, seamless, without structure.

Before COVID, I needed to believe each day would get better. I needed to feel my doctors knew my tumor would abate, and that if I gave everything to treatment, I would be delivered more life opportunities, something I fully don’t deserve. Such needs are gone. I am too comfortable with the sharp edges of my reality. I accept my tumor, my back, and Parkinson’s will have its inevitable conclusion. 

On these days, when it all stands still, I no longer feel the need for bravado. I give up my self-delusion. I hesitantly embrace the knowledge that no matter how many stairs I climb or ellipses I travel, no matter how hard I push my heart or how much weight I lift, neither heart nor head will be healthy enough to pump meaning into COVID.

And in these ‘still’ moments, I reclaimed missed opportunities. I love strangers with an intensity I never knew. On this day in mid-May, as the night begins, I walk and find silent streets: no restaurant lines, no children riding bicycles, no couples strolling in the park. It had taken the combined will of thousands to love one another so much that time stopped. Millions ultimately accepted the immense challenge and silenced life, their life. 

I feel so grateful for the sacrifice. And for this moment, I am so profoundly proud of everyone that nothing more critical exists for me … neither cancer nor a lousy back.

In his book The Heart Aroused, David Whyte wrote of a time he found himself working with a roomful of thoughtful managers. The group was looking at the way humans find it necessary to sacrifice their sacred desires and personal visions on the altar of work and success. Whyte instructed the class to summarize their life in one sentence.

In the back of the classroom, a woman read slowly, unaware that the silence struck the room. 

“Ten years ago . . .

I turned my face for a moment, and it became my life.”

Whyte was demonstrating how we have the patience for almost everything, but that which is most important. We look at the life of our own most central imaginings and see it beckon. For the most part, we neither dare to follow it nor leave it. We turn our face for a moment and tell ourselves we will be sure to get back to it.

I read Whyte’s book in 2002. Every once in a while, the urge to write my one-line life summary resurfaces. In a darkened stairwell my left hand shook uncontrollably from Parkinson’s. “Just one of those days,” I muttered. In utter exhaustion, I quickly penned, “Days became decades.

“Days became decades.”

Almost everyone I know understands this sentence. Work hard for your goals, sacrifice, commit to the ideas of others and forget your own, receive promotions, and get rewarded for success. Through the years, your hard drive gets full, life fills, investments pay off. Yet you stop to look around, and nothing seems familiar. 

Weariness is the fulcrum for introspection. At 59, doctors claimed I had approximately two good years. At 60, eleven months remain. I descend into a cadence of thought of just how I got here. I have a ton of shit, but little else. My inner soul longed for a truer sanctuary, a hunger for something money can’t buy. 

St. Gregory once said, “Grace is given not to them that speak their faith, but to those who live it.” I’ll have to admit, I haven’t lived in faith until about eight years ago. I mean, I had faith, but I hadn’t lived in faith. Right now, amid a pandemic, amid all my suffering, I am just plain weary. Exhausted. Exhausted of words, ideas, thought-provoking mission statements such as “First things first” or “Turn the ship around.” When people die every few minutes, such things seem rather small.

Moving to the bathroom, I splashed water unto my face. Looking upward to the mirror, I asked the man on the other side, “Where does this end?” I didn’t know.

The Response

Lovers of words and computers are prone to endless study. Yesterday, my boss asked if I had performed any research. With accouterment of medical support alarms, laughter was my only reply. 

We’ve become so involved in all things that we forget to live. We are propelled to make the best use of time, study the world, and absorb everything. Interactions become “deep,” “philosophical” or “analytical.” And when we’re done, there’s no joy.

The real proving ground of living a faith-based life does not reside in our ability to study it. It’s about how we treat one another, and whether we’re fully present in each moment of service. Can we find pure gratitude, a joy in the heart, a desire to serve? 

Faithful living is not an intellectual assent. Service to those in need is a path, it’s faithful living. The real proving ground of our faith isn’t how articulate, or how deep it may sound, it’s how we live. Thus, when I looked in the mirror, the man looking back responded: 

“… if there is no room for humanity, pain, sweat, doubt, and discouragement if your life, then you need to change who you are.”

Man downhill observing mountain landscape at sunset

Forgiveness is a tough exercise. It’s necessary for peace in life. It’s natural to hold onto the wrongs of life and vowing to get even at some future day. Unfortunately, it rarely works out.

I passed by a COVID patient wishing for some old-time jazz music. I am not talking about the 1970’s jazz scene. I’m referring to classical legends such as Glen Miller. The gentleman tried humming PEnnsylvania 6-5000, but couldn’t remember the lyrics. PEnnsylvania 6-500 was a Glenn Miller hit lasting twelve weeks. Miller wrote the song in an era when most local telephone calls in large cities were dialed directly and required an operator.

PEnnsylvania 6-5000 was recorded by many stars, including the Andrew Sisters. Unfortunately for the Andrew Sisters, Maxene and Patty Andrews had a falling out. Some claim the issue was due to a family estate, others claim it was from show royalties, and according to a documentary, Maxene Andrews lived two parallel lives: the professional and personal. For years Maxene Andrews had a relationship with her manager, Lynda Wells.

For thirteen weeks, the Andrew Sisters sang together but never spoke to one another. LaVerne passed in 1967, Maxene in 1995, and Patty in 2013. Maxene and Patty never reconciled.

I hoped the patient I passed was not in a similar situation. I pulled out a cell phone, opened YouTube, and placed the phone by the man’s ear. The Andrew Sisters filled the room with angelic harmony. The softly smiled and comfortably rested his hands on his chest.

There’s always a hearing. It comes to us in dreams, or maybe a song, after a reminder of some long lost love or slighted friend. Perhaps we’ll hear that voice at a gravesite, hospital, or in the wake of a simmering feud. However, it comes, it is the voice of God calling, beckoning to remind us of the power and love in forgiveness.

Some of us will wrestle with its authentication. Was it divine? Maybe it was the wine? Yes? No? But if we’re willing to risk abandoning that which matters so little, perhaps we can discern its lesson and experience the power of love – the ability to forgive. The power of God’s love propels us to understand that we can’t live in the now while holding onto yesterday.

Our journey will define our lives. The best route is one that lived in physical, spiritual, geographical, and emotional balance. Yeah, we’ll all walk the valley of doubt, difficulty, anger, and sometimes hatred. Through all of it, we’ll learn to navigate, meet God in the doorway of eternal love, and finally reconcile all that we were, all we are, and all we’ll ever become. It should be the warmth of intimacy, not the allure of fault.

A few minutes later, I left my jazz aficionado asleep, caught in the memories of an earlier life. I could catch snippets and slight moments of a dream. Was that dream from early life? The Andrew Sisters? Glen Miller? Or was the dream of some long feud remaining unresolved? Hard to say. Whatever dream occupied him, I hoped it indeed was peaceful. I hope it was love.

Working nonstop on our company’s Coronavirus Tiger Team is exhausting. Let’s face it; coronavirus news is depressing and impossible to get secluded. On Friday, I mentally shut down. Finally, getting several days off, I extracted myself from any form of COVID news. As valiant as that effort was, my Samsung flooded with COVID-19 messages. 

Our Task Force required daily watching of our current Washington administration updates. Many team members left wondering if any intelligible life existed on Pennsylvania Avenue. We can’t stand the constant political bickering and stream of negativity. As Seth Meyers stated, any time, a world-renowned idiot like Donald Trump tells you to think about that’s your queue to exit the conversation. “He’s like the dumbest guy at the cocktail party trying to make conversation by telling you something he read on a Snapple cap.”

Truthfully honest, I don’t give a s••• if Coronavirus gets me anymore. I used to, but not now. Of course, there’s the anxiety associated with still going into a hospital, as my work is considered medically necessary. Sure, there’s the reality that every time I enter the front doors, it increases my probability of catching the virus. And of course, I take exceedingly due diligence, even when I stop for gas. However, at the end of the, it is what is.

Why? Well, there are a lot of people out there worse off than me. For many people, it’s a rather dark time. Jobs are gone. Savings are being depleted. And we’re experiencing long-term isolation never intended. 

Humanity survived worse. There were World Wars, the Black Flu, Spanish Flu, smallpox, H1N1, HIV/Aids. Yet, it’s those who find purpose under unimaginable circumstances will survive – and eventually prosper. Frankl called it the ‘quest for meaning.’ 

Sometimes we find meaning in extraordinary places. I find it in the transcendental power of Love. Frankl noted this form of Love accordingly.

“Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.”

Frankl’s words, “life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose,” are a call to action today. Finding purpose, a fundamental requirement for human health and well-being, will not cure the Coronavirus, but may well mitigate its effects and enable a more rapid recovery.

Zig Ziglar stated we could either react or respond. Sure, many of us will have good days. Many of us will have bad days. But each of us can choose to adopt positive attitudes and control our response to the circumstances.

Therefore, when I say, “I don’t give a s••• anymore,” it’s because I do. I refuse to ‘react’ to COVID-19. Instead, I am responding by finding any semblance of Love possible. I choose to find meaning and purpose in what I do. If I die, then so be it. I die in meaning and Love.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

~Victor Frankl ~

In a world of COVID, we’ve suddenly become confined to small spaces with our spouses, with little to no reprieve. During the ensuing weeks and months, we’ve got to balance work life and personal life, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

In a lot of ways, many marriages will receive a glimpse of life in retirement. Spouses will look from different lenses—one may think the sky is falling, the other believes, “Eh, no big deal.” Jada Pinkett Smith related her experience. Smith, who’s been married to actor Will Smith for 23 years, realized she didn’t know him.

“I gotta be honest. I think one of the things that I’ve realized is that I don’t know Will at all. I feel like there’s a layer that you get to, life gets busy, and you create these stories in your head, and then you hold onto these stories, and that is your idea of your partner; that’s not who your partner is. Will and I are in the process of him taking the time to learn to love himself, me taking the time to learn to love myself, and us building a friendship along the way. Let me tell you, that’s been something, to be married to somebody 20-some odd years and realize I don’t know you and you don’t know me and also realizing there’s an aspect of yourself you don’t know either.”

Building friendships is something all must do.

Just before COVID closing the world, I overheard two men discussing their lives. One man was determined to force his wife of 27 years out of the marriage. He hated everything about her, from sunup to sundown. By his logic, if his wife left, he would not lose his children’s honor, and he could marry a younger wife. He wanted a younger wife. A younger wife will fix everything.

My wife says, ‘I just want everything to be back the way it was in the beginning,’” the first man says. “God. My wife is old. Since her chemo is over, she smells old. Her skin sags and nothing she does is satisfying. She disgusts me.

No one can ever go back to the beginning. It will never be, “… the way it was back in the beginning.” Relationships either evolve or devolve. The problem is we misperceived what our futures will be. 

COVID kind of hits that home.

Final Thought

A couple was dining and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. After the meal, the husband presented his wife romantically with a beautiful, ancient gold antique locket on a chain.

Amazingly when his wife opened the locket, a tiny fairy appeared.  

Your forty years of devotion to each other has released me from this locket, and in return, I will grant you both one wish each – anything you want.

Without hesitating, the wife asked, “Please, can I travel to the four corners of the world with my husband, as happy and in love as we’ve always been?

The fairy waved her wand with a flourish, and magically there on the table were two first-class tickets for a round-the-world holiday.

The fairy looked to the husband, “Your turn.

The husband thought for a moment, and said, “Forgive me, but to enjoy that holiday of a lifetime – I yearn for a younger woman – so I wish that my wife be thirty years younger than me.

Shocked, the fairy waved her wand, and the husband became ninety-three.

Last Friday (May 1), MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski read back to Biden his own statement from 2018 about Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades earlier: 

“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she is talking about is real, whether or not she forgets the facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.”

In February 2020, Forbes Contributor Karlyn Borysenko wrote:

“If you call a woman a liar, even if you didn’t do [what you’re being accused of], you’re guilty of calling a woman a liar, so there’s no way out. If you don’t deny it, you’re thought to be guilty. If you do deny it, you’ve committed an additional political sin, so it’s a trap. And it feels just horrible…They either assume your guilt, or they assume you shouldn’t be asserting your innocence.”

Ms. Borysenko’s words haunt me; I can’t get past them. In my 2017 blog post, The Monica Lewinsky’s of the World Need Us, I wrote from a perspective of my failures – demons, some I might claim to carry even today. My writing exposes deeper truths. Throughout the years, I’ve taken an extensive personal inventory of the man I’ve become. For quite some time, (my stock) wasn’t pretty. Many years later, I take responsibility for speaking out for listening to those who claim to be victims and holding men accountable for their actions.

For Trump, there is no truth. He has written his own rules for years. The irony of Trump Presidency came while watching conservative religious leaders trip over themselves to support a man, that by all accounts, would likely experience the express elevator to the basement. At the same time, I was excommunicated by the church for having the gall to visit a Buddhist monastery. 

Looking at the Biden allegations, I see only caricatures of authoritarian pompousness from everyone. Is the accuser some form of monster: a wasted figure that retreated for nearly thirty-years only to now give up her secret? Were the motivations for potentially destroying Biden’s campaign (or Trump, or Clinton) clear: is it really in the interest of justice? Is the process of scrutiny really to protect the public from an abusive leader? Is so, why did America fail and assert no such strength during the 2016 campaign? And, should an accused resign, is resignation is proof of guilt?

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s hard not to leap to the presumption of guilt once a sexual accusation is made. This is 2020, and in dramatic form, we must always believe. Therefore, the burden of proof is on the defense.

For many victims, the #MeToo movement has transformed an assault into something empowering. And for the most part, such movements have netted positive change. Nonetheless, when such allegations occur, all of us (media included) begin a righteous quest to discover our Truth, not necessarily the real Truth. In the end, without evidence, we become trapped by torrents of opposing viewpoints. 

Herein lay our error. 

If we believe we hold the monopoly of Truth, the truth will die. Reality is neither black nor white. Real allegations occur, and false allegations occur. Who do I believe? What is the Truth of this moment or that moment? Will I ever be able to judge this person? Will I ever be able to put this to rest, with a verdict? Can we get closure?

In the end, while most believe sexual assault is unacceptable, when push comes to shove, there are circumstances we’re willing to tolerate simply because other things matter more. That certainly held for Trump. The same for Clinton. But I hope to god it’s not true of Biden.

Feeling Real

A cousin contacts me only when he needs something. Needs tend to vary. 

“We’re having a family reunion (in three days). Can you fly/drive/hike/skateboard/surf half-way across the country and join us?” Other times, “Hey, we’re celebrating my mother’s 50th/60th/70th birthday? (Usually in three to five days). Can you fly/drive/hitchhike/Greyhound/balloon here?”

After a couple of years of silence, he contacted me via email. 

“Hey, I talked to your mother today. I haven’t heard from you. Just checking in on you to see how you’re doing. Let me know.” 

The first thing I did was call my mother, who confirmed that my cousin called. “He said that since he wasn’t allowed to get his mother out of the nursing home, he wanted to know if I could go out and get a ‘Mother’s Day Card’ and send it to her.’

“So,” I asked. “Why would you break Social Distancing in the middle of an epidemic to get a ‘Mother’s Day Card’ on Wednesday for your 90-year-old sister? I presume he understands Mother’s Day is five days away?”

“Don’t know,” my mother retorted.

I wrote to my cousin, informed I was doing well, even though I am working with frontline clinicians. I was tired, tired of ‘flatline’ monitors, tired of being exhausted, that I was working 12 shifts since March 6th, and that we lost one of our team members to COVID.”

“Hey,” my cousin responded. “Glad you’re ok. By the way, Mother’s Day is upon us. Can you send a Mother’s Day Card to Aunt P.?”

I didn’t respond.

Feeling Real

A family settled down for dinner at a restaurant. The waitress first took the order of the adults, then turned to the seven-year-old. “What will you have?” she asked.

The boy looked around the table timidly and said, “I would like to have a hot dog.”

Before the waitress could write down the order, the mother interrupted. “No hot dogs,” she said, “Get him a steak with mashed potatoes and carrots.”

The waitress ignored her. “Do you want ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?” she asked the boy.

“Ketchup.”

“Coming up in a minute,” said the waitress as she started for the kitchen.

The boy looked at everyone and said, “Know what? She thinks I’m real!”

Conclusion

When others don’t pay attention to our presence we feel as though we are objects to be maintained or avoided or fixed, rather than real human beings to be treated with respect and dignity. On the other hand, when someone listens to us, we feel loved and we feel real.

In the current COVID world, please ensure everyone is loved and feels real.

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