My husband has Covid, and I may be next. I’m officially in limbo (call it quarantined).
Overnight, life changed. I canceled plans and learned, once again, that life has no contractual obligation to go my way.
Living in limbo is a bit of a pain. I’m now officially at the beck and call of my husband-patient, even though I’ve never won any caregiving awards. (He, as my editor, insists that he’s very appreciative.)
I’d prefer not to get the disease.
Yet life in limbo can also offer some freedoms. My time horizon shortens, and I give myself permission to be a little scattered. Maybe this isn’t the time to make big decisions or figure out my life four months down the road.
Or even push. Yes, 10,000 new weeds entered the garden overnight with the cold winter rains (technically spring in the Northwest), but does that matter?
Today, I focus only on stuff right before me, the micro-do-able.
Limbo: an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition., from the Latin limbus meaning “edge, border.”
Living through the pandemic taught many of us about limbo-land.
When thinking of the future becomes a luxury
My experience of limbo-time is almost nothing compared to what people face worldwide. At this moment, millions are waiting for test results, praying for a loved one’s operation to go well, or wondering if they’ll ever be able to return to their homelands.
Many wait, in limbo, for wars to stop.
Recently Rev.Tatiana Nechytailo, a priest in Ukraine, wrote:
“At the moment, life is happening completely in the present. There are no plans in the conventional sense. On one day, when I thought that it was no longer dangerous, Kyiv was bombed again. Again, houses in the city center were hit, and again there were dead. For us humans it is important to be able to plan, but planning is now in the category of ‘luxury.’
There are children in the Waldorf school ‘Sophia,’ who can’t go to school because there is always a danger that Kyiv will be bombed.”
Despite the horrors they face, she describes how members of her congregation find themselves entering into deeper conversations, being called into service, and finding connections with their faith and spiritual core.
Limbo can include both horror and hope.
Limbo-time invites us to step away from the tidiness of knowing what we are doing and where the world is going (as illusory as that might be) and get closer to life, with its constant changes and unknowns.
As I let go of the burden of trying to control the universe or even life tomorrow, I can spend time noticing what’s going on today. The spinach is finally growing. Miracle!
Will I be sick tomorrow? I don’t know, but limbo-land is about surrendering and accepting what is, trusting that the universe has my back.
I keep going, but it makes no sense (does it ever?) to stay uber-busy. Why do I pack my life so full when it keeps me from being present?
Recognizing the gift
The brilliant comedian, Trevor Noah, spoke at this year’s Washington Correspondents’ Dinner. He offered the requisite jokes, jabs, and roasts to a house packed with the cream of the political and journalistic crop. Yet, at the end of his talk, he grew reflective.
He talked about the responsibilities of journalists in the free world.
“If you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities — how meaningful it is — look no further than what’s happening in Ukraine. Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what’s really happening.”
“Ask yourself this question. If Russian journalists who are losing their livelihoods and their freedom for daring to report on what their own government is doing — if they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions, if they had basically what you have, would they be using it in the same that you do?”
In Ukraine, planning is a luxury. Today, I have some freedom to think ahead and will have more once I reach the Covid-free zone.
How will I use that opportunity? Will I squander it worrying (always a temptation) or remember that life is always uncertain and not to be taken for granted?
And will I stay grateful, knowing that the ability to shape the future, in whatever ways I can, is an enormous gift?