“My head understands it, but it was hard on my heart.”

I heard that last night from a woman in British Columbia. I was attending a special “Pandemic Presentations” Toastmasters meeting via Zoom, and the person giving the speech – who is single and lives alone in her apartment – was talking about the feelings of isolation she was experiencing while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. At one point, she talked about how she feels when she goes outside for a walk and some fresh air, and sees people cross over to the other side of the street as she gets close to them. That’s when she made the comment about her head understanding, even though it was hard on her heart.

I know exactly what she means. I think we all do. We understand and agree – most of us, anyway – with the need for social distancing. And we try to keep a safe distance from others. But it still doesn’t feel good when people move away so as not to get too close to us. Or when we do the same to them.

Although I rarely venture out of the house, and always wear a mask when I do, one of the things that bothers me about this – and it’s such a minor and insignificant thing I’m almost embarrassed to mention it – is that people can’t see you smile when you’re wearing a mask. I never really thought before about the smile we often give others as we pass by them – a smile and a nod, which doesn’t really do anything other than acknowledge their presence whenever we make eye contact with someone who happens to be within smiling and nodding distance of us.

It’s another one of those everyday things that’s not deliberate, it’s just instinctive. And friendly. And I miss it.

There’s a commercial I see regularly on TV that says we’re going to have some catching up to do when we can once again hug our loved ones, share a meal together, and do all the things we’re not able to do right now. That’s what I’m taking comfort in – the knowledge that someday this will all be over.

And when it is, our hearts can be light again. Our smiles can be bright again. And there will be no masking our joy.

June 19, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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