Grateful. A list.

We all have been reflecting a lot in the past few weeks, as we mark the one year journey of hell through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s easy and logical to get into the place of remembering everything we have lost. I think of my cousin, a wonderful family friend, a few dear friends from the sportswriting world, some lost directly to COVID, others from the lingering damage, and even from the despair of the dark, closed world. They’re gone. And even the ritual of mourning them, honoring their lives, and physically being with the mourners was denied. As a friend said to me, we will be winding all the things we have held in for a while. A long while.

I get that. I have a lot to unwind, but I want to do it with the duality of also thinking about the things that have been blessings.

My students: they have never failed to surprise me with bringing their hearts and open minds to each class. Our classes went from a blink of an eye into Zoom mode last March, a reality I had not planned. But we adjusted, made a concerted effort to be present for each other, and yes, try to laugh as much as we could. I am sure my BTS-laden pre-class Spotify playlist concerns them greatly (DO NOT DIS MY LOVE OF K-POP hip-hop…Suga, J-Hope and RM can throw down). The students know I am trying to lift their spirits, even with interesting music. We are all in this together, and taking even a minute to have some joy is important. So many of us have heavy hearts from stress and grief, even from having COVID.

Amazing women: I have truly gotten to see the power of women advocating for each other over the past year, as many of us have been thrown into crisis situations we cannot solve alone. The world grew smaller: job losses, pay cuts, schools shuttering, taking care of parents and children at the same time, and having the pressure of taking care of home – with no escape of help. We can long debate the fairness of these things, down to how society values women and provides resources vs. men. A lot of us are very tired. Having a strong group meant the world, professionally and personally, as things could be said without subtext or explanation. My prayer is for us all getting back what we need.

SaY wHaT? It’s still hard to process for me, much less say, that I am going into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. Yeah, really. They’re letting female sports writers crash these days, which is a good sign. (according to the student to who recommended the BTS jam as my walk-up) I may be the first to come through the door, but I vow I will be far from the last. There are so many that needed to come before me, because of their influence in the 80s/90s. And heck, I’ve still got many chapters left to write in my career, so I intend to use this belief in me as a good kick in the ass to keep going.

We have a ways to go before life comes back to us, but I see the evolution coming. Like spring, some stuff is coming up. I look forward to those days, when I can really start unwinding and be present in the world.

Until then….fighting.

Ferris was right

We already know Ferris Bueller was right about a lot of things, way back in the dark ages of the 80s. Life does come at you fast. But I not sure how to slow it down. I mean, a stay at home order for COVID is one way of slowing down. I mean slowing down the washing machine of insanity around us. The swirling news, breaking horror, cruelty and stupid that is flung at us non-stop.

I had one of those – better slow down – moments recently. Like in 48 hours, I realized a good colleague was not going to live much longer thanks to colon cancer; the world would know I am Oakland University’s distinguished alumni of the year; and I may also have cancer.

Take all that in.

I was first sad about Jamie, knowing his wife and kids were soon going to be trapped in the netherworld of being grateful that he is no longer suffering, but angry and sad that he is gone too soon at 48. I have been in that world with Jeni, and the pain of all of those powerful emotions rips you open for a while. I don’t wish it on anybody.

The OU thing is cool, unexpected and I am grateful. I never needed awards tell me I am doing the right things. But having something realize you are working hard is lovely. So thank you.

And me. Yeah. The thoughts running through my head while they biopsied were wild. What do I do if this is cancer? Is this what Jamie, Jeni, my mom, Michelle all felt like before they were told they had cancer? Michelle and my mom are still here. Jamie and Jeni are not. And no, do NOT believe the lie when they say it shouldn’t hurt. I call massive bullshit. It hurt, it sucked and you do it because you need to know. You go into your head and pretend you don’t feel what you feel.

Jamie dies. And I wait. I found out 5 days later that I don’t have cancer, and I am relieved. I’m grateful that I have access to healthcare that lets me know that. But I am also pissed that health care can’t save people like Jamie, who want to live and need to be here.

We all need to take better care of each other. More respect. Less cruelty. It’s just so obvious. So that will be my mantra for the rest of the year. Care. Be there. Love.

Try it. And don’t make life come at your so fast.