Lifelines

Photo of a cat sitting on slippers
My son Cesar loves nothing more in the world than my mother’s sandals. Photo by Ariane.

 

Dear Reader,

Hello again! Back in February, I wrote to you as the marketing intern at Ethos, and now I’m back in a different capacity this time as a marketing and sales executive working on some exciting projects.

How are you? I ask this sincerely and, these days, with a bit of hesitation. Most of us could be doing a lot better, and I don’t know what else I can say when I don’t trust my own reassurances. A good friend and I have taken to following up with “In what aspect; physical, emotional or mental?” Not that it matters when either way the answer is a resounding [insert long, guttural sigh]. Still I try to check in with my friends and send out “How are you? I hope you’re doing okay” messages that I know will be left unopened for a week before I get a reply in the form of a mildly-concerning meme. We’re all struggling to keep our heads above the water, and I hope I’ve thrown out enough of these lifelines for someone to catch when they need to talk.

For some reason, it feels almost impossible to do this with my parents. Sometimes I still feel like a child and can only receive care from them, and I forget that I’m an adult with the capacity for care to be reciprocal. In my family we’re quiet and independent, so help is asked for but seldom initiated: if you don’t say anything, we’ll assume you’re okay even if you’re clearly not.

My mother is especially adamant about not needing help. She’s a headstrong, sometimes-stubborn and resourceful finder-of-solutions. She’s big on home remedies and natural supplements, prides herself on almost never going to the doctor and harbours a moderate distrust of Western medicine (before you come for us, she is fully vaccinated). Yet lately it seems that all she can think of is Covid scares and possible exposures. Sometimes she looks at the cats, sighs and thanks God that they can’t catch the virus. When she stops in the middle of the room, like she’s wondering what to do next, I know she’s really just going through, for the tenth time, the mental calculation of “if the confirmed positive Covid case was at Parkway at 11.25am last week and I got to library around that time it means that I confirm was out of Parkway before 11.25am so no way we crossed paths right?” She never knows if she’s having a real fever or if it’s purely psychological. And yet it took me forever to type “Are you feeling better? Do you want me to pick up anything on the way home?” to her on the phone. And yet she insisted she was fine.

No one has answers or solutions to the problems we’re living with these days, and it’s all we can do to be there for each other. I’ve gotten much better at caring for my friends in ways my mother will insist she does not need. I hope she knows the lifeline is there when she needs it. And I hope that you have one of your own. Please take it when you need it.

love and warmth,
Ariane

P.S. I hope you enjoyed the cat. Feel free to screenshot him. We could all use more animal pictures in this new “lockdown”.

(From July 24, 2021)