I Can’t Cry

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

I Can’t Cry

The ups and downs. The love and loss.

It has been 20 days since my last post.

I was riding the Birthday wave, reflecting and being optimistic. And the Universe had another plan for my immediate future. On Sunday, November 14, I had a positive COVID test. Somewhat annoying cold/laryngitis symptoms were more than that; I lost my sense of smell. And over the next four days, I felt sicker and sicker. (Yes, I am vaccinated.)

Of course, I isolated at home. The husband, who had COVID in September, isolated from me. I worked as much as possible from home until the self-talk of pushing through it was no longer possible. Maybe the Universe was telling me I needed to rest and have a break before charging into my 53rd year.

My time literally on the front lines has been diminished in the last couple of weeks. Fortunately, I have a team that doesn’t really need me! Not on a daily basis anyway. I missed my work though. I missed the Human Services Campus. I mentally flogged myself when feelings of self-pity crept in because I am not homeless. I had a bed to rest in, technology for a telehealth appointment, a husband who made sure I ate food and drank enough water. I was able to go to an appointment for a monoclonal antibody infusion, which I think lessened my symptoms and reduced the depth of COVID destruction. The line at times between my sanity and optimism faded and receded, and I saw the potential for pessimism and anxiety. I thought of my friends who passed away due to COVID and really couldn’t imagine the loneliness they must have felt alone in a hospital bed on a ventilator. I came close to crying several times, however the first sign of tears made my congestion worse, and I stopped myself.

I don’t share this to complain, seek advice, or garner empathy. I share because it is my experience as a vaccinated person who didn’t do anything especially risky to contract the Virus. I share because my work colleagues are constantly at risk. I share because the unhoused and unsheltered of our community, those we at the Campus work for, are at risk, and they face barriers, challenges, and services gaps that those of us who are housed do not. That line between sanity and insanity, the line between calm and anxiety, the line between happiness and sadness, the line between “having it all” and having nothing —- those lines are thin and erasable. Those lines may be dashed and light. Those lines all end somewhere.

I have the luxury and position to be able to work from home. Most people who work in social services do not. Most positions are on the front lines, serving others. I don’t take my position for granted. My respect and appreciation for the direct service workers deepens, and whatever minimal maternal instinct that I have kicks in, and I want to protect them.

Someone else who serves others selflessly is my friend Tina. Her husband, Sean, passed away the Friday after Thanksgiving. He was 56 and feisty. Tina and Sean took me into their family when I first moved to Arizona and I had no social network. I know they would do anything for me. And I will still do anything for them. My heart aches. And I can’t cry.

It feels like the cliché soap opera line, “like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” My experience is probably similar to many of you who are reading this. The ups and downs. The love and loss.

I pick myself up, moving a little more slowly than pre-COVID, and I keep putting one foot in front of the other. This test of my patience and fortitude underscoring the determination to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable, permanent housing. No one should suffer through an illness, Virus, or global pandemic from a sidewalk or a shelter. Not ever. I always say I am an experiential learner. I really didn’t need to learn about COVID this way, however now I have. And I will apply that to a clearer health equity lens (in addition to/adjacent to a racial equity lens) when it comes to solving homelessness.

Thanks for reading if you have made it this far. Wash your hands. Cover your face in public. Vaccinate and booster. Be kind. Share (except your germs). Love, love, love your peeps. Be anti-racist. Listen first to seek to understand. Dream big and act. Oh, and keep your primary care doctor current (there’s a story there, yes).

Be like Mike.

About the Human Services Campus

Founded in 2005, the Human Services Campus is a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, 16 independent agencies on the Campus see nearly 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including: reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing. Having all of these resources in one location with intra-agency communications makes it more feasible to provide a customized engagement for each client to help end their homelessness. For more information, visit www.hsc-az.org.

View the 2020-2021 Annual Report

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