“As a man in his last breath drops all he is carrying, each breath is a little death that can set us free.” -Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
TODAY marks the 40th day since I first tested Covid-19 positive. At age 67 I had always been the picture of good health — never spending even one day in the hospital, until catching Covid from a close friend, due to her workplace not following distancing protocol last December.
My Covid journey has been full of rude awakenings of which some, as a former smoker of over 20 years, that have taken my breath away.
For example, I have needed oxygen to maintain somewhere-near normal functioning breathing. Even with the oxygen, taking a short walk to the bathroom or kitchen sends my heart racing and results in shortness of breath.
So lesson one: I appreciate my breath… it is what separates life and death.
At times over the last 40 days I have felt like a motorist on the side of the freeway broken down… watching the speeding traffic wiz by me. Feeling pretty helpless, yet making the choice to use this “down-time” to reflect upon my life rather than complain. To appreciate all of the good health and blessings enjoyed in life so far.
So lesson two: appreciate good health, it is fragile and can break down or change direction very quickly.
In the Fall of 2020, after being cut back to working half-time, I decided to assemble my first book. Truth is, it is really a collection of ten book reviews of spiritual growth titles by a variety of authors whose transformational writing also inspired me to write a ballad/song for each book as well. I titled it Blissfull Books and Ballads.
My daughter Beth (Bhavani Hope) helped me to professionally record all ten songs in her new recording studio in November and December.
Amazingly, we finished the recording project just before I caught Covid. The CD is currently being mixed and mastered for release on my birthday, 2.22.21. (free book pdf and sample songs posted at www.blissfull.org )
So lesson three: Out of seemingly tragic circumstances something new and uplifting can emerge.
One of the books I recently reviewed is entitled Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr. Here is the first of 101 truisms I gained from the book; “The path of love and the path of suffering are the Two Great Paths of transformation. Suffering gets our attention. Love and prayer gets us to our heart and passions.”
Can I honestly say that catching Covid falls into the category of everything that belongs?
Not at first. But as the days turned into weeks, I have seen that suffering has indeed grabbed my attention… and yes it has led me to listen to my heart… and quiet my mind in the process.
I took my 4th Covid test yesterday and am hoping for a negative result, so my 40-days in the wilderness of quarantine might finally end.
But guess what? If my test is still positive, I can honestly say “It’s all good…even if it’s not”.
God only knows if or when my breathing will get back to “normal,” but in the meantime, I choose to thankfully embrace the present moment, which is my lesson four, gleaned from Parker J. Palmer’s book On The Brink of Everything: “Being human means embracing our brokenness as an integral part of life.”
Bottom line: Please take Covid-19 seriously, but if you or a loved one should test positive, embrace the lessons that it may also have to teach — not as tragic, but as transformational.
As a hospice volunteer, once I am back to good health I’m looking forward to sharing the message of my new book and cd (you are loved… and dying is safe) with as many souls as possible — while I still have life and breath!
If you are somehow able to come to a place where you can shed your fear of death, and instead see it as the final stage of growth, you will be able to rest in peace in both life… and death.
P.S. The good news finally arrived late last night: after two months I tested Negative for CV-19. Fourth time a charm. I am very thankful now to be on the road to recovery!
Day 100. It has now been just over 100 days since I first tested positive for CV-19. It has become clearer each day that I am one of the 15+/-% of CV long-haulers. My only lasting symptom, shortness of breath, it a big daily challenge. My lung Dr. has me on an inhaler twice a day, but the progress is so slow it is almost imperceptible. He says it’s now mostly up to my body to replace the scar tissue left by CV-19. Thankfully, I am able to take short walks, short swims and a weekly Zoom breathing yoga class with my daughter ; )
Day 150. May 21, 2021 — After 5 months of intermittent shortness of breath, April and May CT Scan shows long-term, irreversible Pulmonary Fibrosis damage, with an average survival rate 2–5 years. I’ve been in hospital for 12 days in So Cal as Dr’s attempt to treat with both antibiotics and steroid treatments. I will soon be released back home using oxygen and Esvriet medication to control flare ups. This leads me to a fifth takeaway from this circumstance: From the lyrics of a song I wrote inspired by The Grace in Dying … “Living is fragile, and dying is safe,Giving is healing, crying myself awake. Our journey into ego, notions of time and space, Our journey out of ego, helps make space for Grace. The key to happiness in life; compassion and attention,The key to embracing death; acceptance and surrender.”