It was 6:00 am, and my room was faintly lit with the promise of dawn. It’s been years since I’ve been to a sunrise service, but there was no getting out of this one. In this era of coronavirus, I feel obligated to snatch up every special opportunity that wanders past me, no matter how tired I feel.
I fluttered from my room to the bathroom to the kitchen, bumping into the family members that I bump into all the time: Mom, Dad, Jenny, and Amy. The only missing person was Steven, who had to work.
Then, with a long skirt over my sweatpants, I got into the car with my sisters and we drove past my Dad’s grass seed cleaning warehouse, and along the “back way,” the old farm road belonging to my Dad’s cousin Darrell who farms the original family farm. Along one bend we had an unbroken view of the foothills in the horizon, with one true-blue mountain peeking through. We got out of the car and set up camp chairs and blankets.
Mom and Dad arrived shortly after us. Then presently, another car drove up, and Ben and Matt stepped out. Ben lives in Corvallis, half an hour away, and I hadn’t seen him in person for three weeks. Matt lives in Houston, and it had been even longer since we’d seen him. But he’d flown back to Oregon just the night before, and was now living with Ben for the foreseeable future, in order to be closer to his family, and his fiancée, Phoebe.
And then the last car drove up, and there was Phoebe. We were all together at last.
I sat in a cluster with my parents and sisters, while Phoebe set her chair six feet from us, and Matt and Ben sat another six feet beyond her. We sang, and prayed, and watched the sun rise. Hallelujah, Christ is risen indeed!
We went back home, making Matt, Ben, and Phoebe stay outside. We take quarantine very seriously. The six of us that live in the house are the only people allowed in the house. Everyone else must stay outside and 6 feet away. But we didn’t stay indoors long, just long enough to make breakfast. Then we went outside, and we all sat around a campfire, eating and drinking hot drinks.
It had been a cold night. There was a layer of frost on the chairs, and Dad held one over the campfire to melt it off, which I happened to capture in an Instagram story that confused my followers. But the sun was bright and warm. And as we sat there, sun on our neck, fire warming our toes, I knew I was incredibly blessed.
Blessed to be quarantined with my family, whom I both love and like.
Blessed that Matt is home, and now my whole family is near.
Blessed with the sunshine, and the fire, and the food.
And blessed to live here, in the countryside, with extensive grounds and flowers and a creek and trees and neighbors who are relatives and don’t mind if you wander on their property to watch the sunrise.
But although I felt genuinely happy on Easter Sunday, the truth is, these days of quarantine have been difficult for me in deep ways that I truly don’t understand.
I mean, why is this hard? I’m not an extrovert. Even though I genuinely enjoy hanging out with friends, going to church, and attending parties, I always feel a little bit of dread at the thought of going, and if something comes up that prevents me from going, I always feel a weird thrill of joy. Quarantine should be a dream come true for me. I should be living my best life.
But I’m not.
For some reason, quarantine feels like a cheese grater slowly slicing slivers off of my sanity. I feel trapped, with no way to escape. I feel angry at people I see on the Internet who are spreading blatant misinformation. I feel fear whenever Corona comes too close, because my mother has terrible asthma, and I can’t bear the thought of her getting it. I feel annoyed at people who chirpily toss out-of-context Bible verses into the void of the Internet as a universal pat answer to all pain, all fear, all suffering.
Inch by inch my sanity erodes, and I find myself feeling all the things I don’t want to feel. Loneliness, mostly. I’ve tried so hard to not be lonely, and yet, here we are. It aches in my soul, and I feel not-okay for a while.
Then, I feel guilty. How can I be not-okay when I’m so blessed? When I have a family and flowers and health and food and so many things that so many people don’t have?
It’s hard for everyone right now. And I wish that knowledge would logic me out of my feelings. I wish that having a comparatively-easy quarantine would mean that I could stop feeling lonely, could stop feeling like my sanity was grated-down, and could stop feeling my feelings.
But that’s not how feelings work. When things are hard, they’re hard, no matter how much worse other people have it.