by Genie Mjelde
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on December 17, 2020.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a writer. I’m just a wife and a mom. I am the mom of a nurse, a Green Beret, an Army Ranger, and a National Guard flight medic who is also a full-time firefighter, a stepmom to an x-ray technician, and a construction worker.
My 60 years on this earth have taught me a few things. My wonderful daddy, a WWII veteran taught me a thing or two about the power of gratitude and resiliency.
When this pandemic began, I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t get overly concerned. Life was fairly normal for us, just the usual amount of chaos in my family’s life. We went to the grocery store, grabbed a few things-it won’t last long I thought. Shit got really real not too long after that when I received a phone call from my rock-solid daughter. She was finishing her shift as a cardiac and ICU nurse, her first since the true outbreak of this virus. A long, intense shift and she was on her way home to her safe place. Except for this time she wasn’t going to hug her two boys or her husband when she got home. Her plans were to sleep in the basement or try to sleep at least. She had to get up the next day and do it all over again, five more times in a week and a half. If I’ve learned anything through 13 deployments and countless first responder calls, I leaned into, “don’t dwell on it mom, pray and get busy.” I brought her food to the hospital and didn’t want to let her walk back through those doors. I had to let the pride overwhelm the fear.
Shit got real again a few weeks later when we received a phone call from my firefighter. He received news that he had been on a call involving a patient who was being tested for the virus. Although they were covered head to toe in their protective gear, he was not taking any chances of going home to his family until the patients’ test results come back. We set him up in the camper in our backyard. I made plans to make him one of his favorite meals. Watching him walk up the driveway with his Clorox wipes and duffle bag, is a scene that I will remember forever. “Don’t dwell mom, pray, and get busy.”
A lot has changed since then, but a lot still remains the same as we navigate this pandemic nearly 9 months later.
As a family, we have been through 13 deployments. At times it’s consumed me, I hear news stories and it feels like the air was literally sucked out of my lungs. I have never been a wallower, I have my moments (believe me), but I try not to stay in a dark place. I often describe the emotions as riding a wave. A wave will come and I ride it all the way to shore – I’ll get my footing again, catch my balance and proceed on. Pray and get busy.
We are living in uncertainty during this pandemic and we still have parents enduring their child’s first deployments. It’s easy to let fear grab hold. I get it, I really do. My greatest fear has always been losing someone I love and care about. Here are a few things that an uneducated, simple mom does to get through rough times:
- Make a list of all the worst things that you can imagine, then write what you would do if each of them happened. Particularly, what your response would be. Put that list away and don’t pull it out, don’t pull that worry out until you have to. You can have a plan, but you can’t really rehearse for the bad news.
- Reach out – connect – step outside yourself. My daddy had a prayer book given to him as he left for the South Pacific during the war. Inside the front cover, he had written- “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” We are all meant to help bear each other’s burdens. Find someone to help.
- Find your happy place-give yourself something every day to look forward to. This can be a book, a tv show, listening to your favorite music, dancing in the living room. Even if it’s a small thing, it’s big if it makes you happy.
- Get fresh air. Go for a walk. Sit on your patio or your porch. Stand outside and feel the sun on your face, even if it’s raining or snowing. Feeling the rain or snow sprinkles really is magic. Smile at people you see and wave at your neighbors.
- Absolutely the most important thing is to count your blessings! I have a dear friend that is a retired SgtMj, a tough ol’ Marine now a combat veteran counselor. Often when he is listening to someone list all that is going wrong in their lives, he’ll ask them to tell him what is going right.
So folks-when the waves come-get your feet underneath you and do what I did just now…I walked outside, to where my son and husband were, dancing to Tom Jones singing, “It’s Not Unusual.” My son called me a weirdo, with a smile on his face. Thank you and you are welcome!
I’ll be over here taking a dose of my own advice.
Pray, get busy, and don’t miss your life!