The family COVID crew. Traci, Marlon, and Kym Hayes
In the pre-Covid world, I thought I knew almost everything I needed on my road through this life. My goals were set; I was content with my family and my wide circle of friends and acquaintances. There were no blips on my radar, and I had no complaints.
Of course, the virus descended upon us, and my so-called perfect existence crumbled. I found myself in quarantine with my household, and the lessons learned obliterated all I thought I knew. I went from moving around the world as free as a bird to being confined to a much smaller existence consisting of going to my job and staying home. Funny thoughts and ideas started to emerge as we tried to get used to the new rules of the world. Along with the new paths my mind was struggling to dissect, there came another stark realization; my circle was much smaller than I had previously thought.
Our phones didn’t ring in as frequently a manner as they had in the recent past. At first, there were Zoom hangouts and virtual drinking sessions, but as the reality of the quarantine settled in, those social “hangouts” faded away. Our interactions with the outside world slowed to a crawl, leaving us with only one option; we were forced to be with each other… and our inner selves.
The neighborhood liquor store, Binny’s, became our weekly excursion, and at one point, we picked up ‘spirits’ for our neighbors. There’s an adage when it comes to imbibing alcohol, a so-called rule to daytime drinking; “It’s twelve o’clock somewhere.” The sipping started whenever, because using the world’s time zones, it is always noon somewhere on Earth. For real.
The conversations were so rich, so inspirational, and so amazing; by the second month of the quarantine, a myriad of new ideas, unique perspectives, and a ton of introspection occurred. We came to realize the importance of true friends, of flying only with eagles, and how vital our family is to our well-being.I had breakdowns (as did everyone else) because of how much I missed my momma, my brother, and my uncles, aunties, and cousins. Sure, we talked on the phone or virtually, but there’s nothing as life-giving as a heartfelt hug from those who love us. I had never before realized how much personal interactions such as hugging fueled my soul.
I guess I can say I took leaps and bounds on the road to becoming who I will eventually be. Conversations with my close friends and family could no longer conclude without me telling them I loved them because the void of not seeing them in person when I wanted and needed to made me fiercely adamant about letting them know my feelings.
There’s a feeling of triumph mixed with sadness as we enter Year Two of COVID-19. I started four new businesses, wrote a bunch of short stories, a novel, released e-stories, plus a collection of tales called ‘In the Pale Moonlight’ (check it out!), and helped dozens of other people on their paths. I went through another metamorphosis as I left vestiges of myself in the world we used to inhabit. I lost family members to Eternity, prayed, and encouraged friends as they battled the virus. In all of our kitchen table sessions, it seems as if God might have been present, nodding at us as we gained a new understanding of the roles we are meant to play in this life.
I sent jokes, poems, pictures, and stories to victims of COVID-19 as they battled, trying my best to encourage them to keep battling and maintain their spirits. There were people who fought the illness in private, only sharing their stories after they recovered. If I’d have known, then my prayers, thoughts, and support would have been showered upon them, and I still feel guilty because I wish I could have done something for them, even though I was ignorant of their plight.
In my circle of friends and close family, people around my age lost their parents, and my heart goes out to them because I cannot imagine the world without my momma. I’m still praying for them in their grief, as they are in a place I do not wish to be.
The conversations with my two daughters have shifted as well, as I try to be more understanding of their failings because I, too, was once where they are. It’s not easy for me to acknowledge, but I had confessed to my kids just how screwed up and clueless I was when I was in my twenties. I give advice and provide a willing ear because I am proud of them, and I believe they can achieve anything they desire, just as my momma has always believed in my brother and me. Being a parent is a gift. I will always be grateful to God because my children and grandson are my most prized achievements.
Nowadays, it’s fulfilling to my soul to give to friends and family, whether it’s a few dollars, a nudge in a new direction, or just someone to talk to. My moments and minutes with my circle are treasured even more now because I know how fleeting this life is. Sure, I accomplished financial goals and other achievements in the past twelve months, but the thing which brings the most pleasure cannot be measured by any means I can think of because it is boundless.
I embrace the most important lesson to come from the pandemic, and I strive to follow the guidelines of the knowledge I received daily. I am not ashamed at all to thank God for the gift of being able to love abundantly in ways I could not have foreseen. Every second is precious, every moment is something to treasure, and the people who love me are worth every effort I can make to remind them of how special they are. It took me a long time to see and understand the gifts I’ve been given, priceless jewels walking around in human form. One of my most fervent wishes is for others to step back and really look at their lives to open their souls to the happiness that comes from being able to love abundantly.
To my family and friends, let me know if you need me. Whether as a drinking partner, or a person to vent to, my heart is open to help give whatever is needed. It took a long time, but the journey to loving abundantly has been worth every lesson…
Marlon S. Hayes is a writer, author, poet, truck driver, CEO, son, husband, father, brother, and nephew who has emerged in this new reality like a butterfly poking its wings through the chrysalis it has left behind. He can be found on Amazon, and followed on Facebook at Marlon’s Writings, Delicious Escape Publications, Is You Going? and at Voices from the Bleachers. Always stay on the sunny side of the street.