It’s been three weeks since we went on lockdown, and the global pandemic situation continues to worsen. It’s really so frightening and worrying. I’m trying to make sense out of things, squeezing my mental powers to try and make a simple forecast of where we might be heading, and until when will worry and fear govern our hearts and minds. But even with all my news and research reading efforts, psychological and analytical skills, as well as my prayers, I’m at a complete loss.
Today should have been the first day of my children’s spring break, and of course—as millions of other people here in Belgium—we had plans to travel. However, most airlines have suspended their flights, and non-essential travel is banned—not that any one in his right mind would want to travel in these circumstances even if flights were operating (though I know some who would).
These days, it’s just about survival:
Leaving the house only to get the bare necessities, and to get some exercise, while strictly following social distancing rules. As frustrating as it is, we should be patient and find ways to adjust to this new NORM—we don’t know until when it will last.
I’m still counting my blessings, though, as I always do.
I’m thankful for being in confinement with my family—my husband, two boys and our German shepherd. There are a lot of families separated due to the coronavirus lockdown or quarantine measures. I’m thankful for being healthy and that my family and I are symptom-free. There are tens of thousands of COVID-19 infections happening every day all around the world—and thousands of deaths. I pray for their souls to rest in peace, and for their grieving families to find strength and patience to deal with their loss. I’m thankful for still being able to afford putting food on the table to feed my children. So many families have lost their jobs and incomes—and only God knows how they are feeding their families.
With all these thoughts of gratitude in my head, there’s another notable blessing:
It’s a beautiful spring day today in the French speaking Belgian province of Brabant Wallon. The skies are clear and the sun is shining, both of which we missed during the long and cold winter season. For the first time in many long months, I’m sitting in my garden coat-free, and soaking up the sun and its warmth.
Nonetheless, my heart hurts, and tears swell up in my eyes as I think about how, today, I should have been heading home to Beirut to be with my parents who live by themselves in their home close to the sea—the Mediterranean.
I close my eyes and I dream.
I’m transported instantly to the familiar sights, sounds, and smells that I was so accustomed to while growing up. The lively streets of Beirut; the smiling faces that greet me in my neighborhood—smiles that conceal pain brought on by hardship and difficult times. Nevertheless, their smiles are drawn on their troubled faces by a distinctive and admirable drive and zest for life.
My mother’s kitchen is filled with beautiful smells:
The powerful fresh ground Turkish coffee aroma lingering from the balcony where classical Arabic songs are playing; the mouth-watering spicy cinnamon smell of my mother’s legendary apple pie; the freshly bought fish from the seafood market; the heady fragrance of lemons picked by my children from the grove of lemon trees in my mother-in-law’s garden; the peppery scent of freshly pressed olives picked from my husband’s parents’ olive orchard…it’s all so intoxicating!
I go for walks with my parents by the corniche—the seaside promenade in Beirut. We talk, we laugh, and we remind each other of heart-warming memories. In the background, I hear the soothing sounds of waves crashing on the rocks. I watch my parents and happiness fills my heart. I see their beautiful smiles and I pray that this evil pandemic ends soon so I could go see them again.
I open my eyes to gaze back at the clear blue Belgian skies.
I’m still in confinement, but I’m fine. I’m in confinement, but my mind can wander. I can dream and I will. But I will count my blessings, too. This helps me survive while the world is still on pause.
Try it. Count your blessings and dream away. That’s my two cents.