The Broken Year

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Chaos in progress…

It feels like forever since I wrote a blog post.  I didn’t consciously intend to give it up; there was just no energy to write and not much positive for me to express, for many months.  I thought that 2019 had been a difficult year, with losing my longtime job and embarking upon the adventures of temporary employment.  So much upheaval and stress, uncertainty and anxiety.

I actually looked forward to 2020 for a fresh start, even writing about My 2020 Vision.

We see how that turned out.  

The year 2020 had begun with promise.  I completed a temporary part-time work assignment with The Oak Ridge Public Library, an enriching, fun position that lasted far longer than its original duration was to be.  #TempLife was going OK. I was thankful for the opportunity to work there and surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  The next week, I began a different, full-time assignment with a local non-profit whose mission and work I strongly believe in, and it turned out to be a good fit for me in many respects.  I was learning new skills in an office environment, a setting where I did not have much experience.  Gradually my supervisor gave me more tasks to try, and my job became a more rounded kind of experience, with enough variety to be interesting, and enough routine to be fairly comfortable.  I was fortunate also to be able to work actually in the office, preserving some semblance of normalcy as the coronavirus pandemic raged everywhere else, forcing untold numbers into the “work from home” workforce.  Until the middle of December, when the pandemic invaded my household, and my body.  That’s another story.

Aside from the pandemic…

The remainder of 2020 was riddled with the deaths of 6 people in my various circles.  My feisty, precious Aunt Helen, a Guardian Angel who was throughout my life a fun, inspiring, positive woman, and someone who was ALWAYS in my corner, no matter what, died on March 4, 2020.  On April 27, two valued and insightful connections from my unit of CPE died.  These two men encouraged me to continue to determine  and develop my prophetic and pastoral gifts, believing that I had them in the first place.  My #FirstEverWorkHusband Martin died the next week on May 4, 2020.  I am still processing that death and how it came about.  Next, after a 2-month break in the deaths, my college voice professor, Dr. Thomas Swann Teague, passed away.  Another person in this circle of people who believed in me in a unique way, his legacy of training in all things both vocal and human continues to this day.  I have long stated that every time I open my mouth to sing, I owe him a debt of gratitude.  Finally, on November 11, Veterans Day, our friend and my husband’s coworker, Billy Kidd, area radio icon and institution, died unexpectedly and suddenly at age 62.  His death on Veterans Day seems fitting, as he loved and respected our vets greatly and did many benefit events over the years for them.  Our whole community was shaken by his passing.

A family member was diagnosed with cancer.  Another’s battles with dementia came out in drips, drops, and then a flood.  Anxiety attacks began to happen in still another family member.  It became relentless.

Due to the pandemic, performances of music shut down.  Singing became unsafe, as did gathering in groups to practice or perform.  Changes in how we all were conducting worship services altered and damaged how I was using—and not using—my own voice.  I began to suffer the effects of neglect and improper/lack of use.  I could have, and should have, been practicing diligently at home.  That is my own responsibility, and I will own the role I played in my decline.  

There was just no energy to do it.  Depression and anxiety drain a person’s resources under normal circumstances, and the #Damndemic multiplied those issues exponentially.  This is not an excuse for my lack of will to practice, merely an explanation.

Any one of these sets of conditions would have been enough to drive me into a severe depressive state on its own; the totality of them all converging in the same year just…broke me.  BROKE me.  

Mid-December brought sickness to the house, and we had a COVID Christmas.  My husband started with sinus-infection symptoms, and my own followed in a day or two.  He received a drive-through COVID test never believing he had the virus.  I received my test the day he received his confirmation call for coronavirus, and I received my confirmation call the next day.  I bowed out of Christmas music at church at the literal last minute because of my own illness and their safety.  (I learned later that the soprano they replaced me with was WAITING FOR COVID TEST RESULTS!!! She was positive but apparently is all right now). Work bosses and contacts were informed in a flurry of messages and emails.  

My husband’s case was quick and fairly mild, and he made a remarkable recovery.  Thanks be to God!  I have become a “long haul” COVID patient, unfortunately.  The good news is that I am improving daily, and hope to be released from restriction soon by Dr. Awesome, who has kept me out of the hospital.  I have chosen to share parts of my COVID process in my social media, in hopes of helping someone else who might experience some of the things I have, as well as to gain insight from those who contracted #ThisDamnableVirus before I did. The COVID process may get its own post later on.

For now, I begin to write again, nearly a month into 2021. More uncertainty stares down the barrel as we move forward. But despite the chaos, the forward motion must progress.

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