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One Year In - Part 1

Last year I got a call from a former client: can you come over and help me deal with a few end of year business issues? It couldn't be done virtually. Sure thing, I'll come over for a few hours.

My consulting business had been basically destroyed in the shutdowns of the pandemic. People lost and closed their businesses and those that were still running reduced their expenses out of fear of the unknown. That'a fancy way of saying they cut me from the budget. I had hardly worked since March. I was certainly up for helping out and said yes reflexively.

I had been taught that a can-do, always-say-yes attitude is essential in business and life. It's part of being a good business owner and a good human. Importantly it's also part of helping Papa (my name for God). So I didn't pause to meditate or pray over it, I said "yes" and went over because I "should."

We followed precautions: doors open, masks on, stood in separate rooms except for maybe a total of 15 minutes when we were 6 feet apart talking. So later that day when I was informed that the person in question had just tested positive for COVID-19 with the Delta variant raging, I thought I was good. I had survived COVID in February of 2020. It had been very very rough, and it took me months to get totally clear of it, but I recovered fully and since then took great care of myself with exercise and nutrition and was careful with my actions. I wasn't worried. It was December 15, 2020.

I self-quarantined just to be safe and out of respect for others. I had just done a grocery shop, got dog food, and delivered Christmas cookies to a fair number of friends. My apartment house was decorated for the holidays, and I had blankets to make for little cousins, so I had no problem sitting down to wait out 10 days, fully expecting nothing to happen. For 4 days nothing did. I had a PCR test already scheduled for the 16th and it had come back negative, but I knew it was too soon to have shown whether or not the meeting on the 15th had infected me. I scheduled a follow up test for the 22nd and decided that in another day or two I could pronounce myself well.

Around 1:00 PM on December 20 that changed.

Within the course of 5 minutes I went from feeling great to having a sore throat, needing to lie down, and shivering. More and more symptoms presented and progressed over the next hours. Once the fever left me, I would spend the next two and half weeks fighting hard to breathe. I stayed home in isolation with my dog. Using a pulse oximeter and a prescription for deximethisone and as much prayer and meditation as I could muster, I fought COVID-19 a second time. As bad as the first time was, the second time was twice as hard. The steroids helped with chest pressure and lung burn, but they made me feel like I had glass in my veins. (I'd list all my symptoms here but it's such a long list as to be boring.) I should've gone to the ER but our hospitals were beyond overwhelmed. The city (Los Angeles/Santa Monica) was in shut down mode. Hospitals were setting up COVID field hospitals in parking lots and rationing oxygen. Knowing I had no one to properly care for my German Shepard dog and with the prospect of spending the holiday in a field hospital I decided to battle it out at home.

My Father back in Pennsylvania had been struggling with dementia and was diagnosed with colon cancer months before. In September I had seen in a meditation that I should go visit him and say goodbye - that it would be my last chance - so I had done just that in October. I drove across the country with my dog in my electric car while the weather was still good and managed to spend a couple afternoons with him in hospice at his care center. I stayed with loving friends who helped and supported me and filled me with love and laughter. I saw the country was still there. I stopped at the Grand Canyon and enjoyed an almost empty National Park visit. Glorious and sad, it was a bittersweet trip. I've never been more grateful for my practice of listening for Papa and Spirit guidance in meditation.

As December approached I expected that my Dad would not be staying around long. By the time I got sick, he had stopped eating and drinking. So as I battled COVID-19 what was also on my mind was that my Dad was dying and I could not get to him. No matter how prepared I was for that, it hurt.

At the same time, too, my landlord was trying to evict everyone in the building despite protections, moratoriums, and common decency. In a desire to empty the building for financial gain and under suit by the city, he kept up with many forms of harassment that included serving the whole building unenforceable and fictitious eviction papers the Sunday evening after Christmas. I was too sick and too conscientious to open the door to the server, but even the knock at the door was threatening. December 27 I felt like either I or the world had gone mad. Things couldn't get more surreal if they tried.

I called to Papa "what the French toast are you doing?? DO you have a plan here? Are we ad libbing? It's not going well. Want to clue me in?" I had to trust there was a plan and I just couldn't see it. At all. I just kept doing one minute at a time. One hour at a time. When I was conscious I read spiritual texts. I prayed. I meditated. My brain fog was heavy but I positive affirmation-ed my brain as much as I could remember to do to keep it stewing in kindness.

On December 31, 2020 my Dad died from colon cancer. I sat in the corner of the couch, fingernails dug in, and cried and shook for days. My GSD was so concerned she lay all 110 pounds of herself on me, total confidence that her presence would help me. She was right. The steroids rendered me unable to sleep and crying harder every time I opened my mouth to talk on the phone. No one could come visit, comfort, or support me because I was in isolation. This means I couldn't get so much as hug or handshake. I texted with people, stared at the Christmas tree, and sat with my dog. Spun out on drugs, grief, and sickness everything was increasingly surreal. It's been said that "the Devil wants me dead but he'll settle for getting me alone." I'd agree. It was dangerous waters for sure.

By January 4th I was testing negative for COVID-19 again, so I could go out in the world but I was far too weak to do it. Feeling like hell, and now reeling from the steroids leaving my system and my Dad's death even walking the dog in the morning was feeling like a Herculean feat. The region was reeling from the slam of the virus wave and so many people had been hit hard. Friends dropped groceries, sent flowers, and instacart gift certificates.

I could barely walk or talk, let alone travel. I watched my Father's funeral on Facebook (from a borrowed account because I had deleted mine) and wondered if this was all real. I prayed and meditated and prayed and meditated. I joined a faith based grief group through my church and did grief recovery work on my own as I struggled to function every day. I was improving but soooooo slowly it was easy to miss. It was one month since I had taken the business meeting. One month since I had said "yes" because I "should."

To be continued...

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