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A Losing Game

As a child, I played a game called “Mother, May I.” Because I usually forgot to say the correct words—“Mother, may I?”–I spent most of the game retreating several steps instead of moving forward.

I often think of this childhood game as I try to heal—mentally, physically and emotionally—from almost eleven months of self-isolation in a world that has stolen my job, my theater and my social interactions from me. Yet, every time I feel as if I am healing—moving forward in acceptance and hope—I descend further into the darkness.

My children and friends tell me to stop watching the news, but I am obsessed with knowing the latest updates about everything. “Get a vaccine,” the guest physician on a newscast tells me. “A vaccine will protect you from a severe case of COVID-19.” That sounds good, but every time I go online to find a site giving vaccines, I am told that no appointment is available. Not even for a 73-year-old woman who becomes feebler with each passing day. That is not a healing message.

The Cultural Trust of my city emails me that the Broadway Series and Cabaret will return in the fall. However, they always add the caveat, “subject to change.” I have heard nothing from the local theaters where I have ushered for almost two decades. This iffy communication—or total lack of communication—detracts from my healing process.

Healing requires hope, but hope is not a part of my personality in the best of times, yet alone in the worst of times. I try to motivate myself to focus on the positives: the lack of COVID in my family and friends; the access to books that Kindle provides; the online readings of plays that nourish my soul. I try to encourage myself to walk every day (although inclement weather keeps me indoors and trekking up-and-down the hallways of my apartment building), to eat healthier meals (ones that do not include dark chocolate M&Ms), and to reach out to people via texts, emails, and Zoom. I try to follow a self-made prescription to heal myself but, by the end of the day, all I want to do is lie under the blanket and disappear in a dream world that does not include a pandemic.

Like “Mother, May I,” healing is a game that I am losing.

Ronna Edelstein
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Comments

4 thoughts on “A Losing Game”

  1. Joseph FENNELLY md.

    Thank you. Please know that your honesty helps us. It gives us permission to better integrate the reality of suffering. It enriches the time and space through which each of us move through so difficult a time. With such integrity perhaps you can find the creative imagination to separate yourself from the spiritual pain you describe. Peace.

    1. Thank you, Dr. Fennelly. Every day is a struggle, but I continue to get up, walk, and try to find some light in the darkness. I wish you, your family, and your friends the best of health.

  2. Thank you for sharing your feelings. Hope can become elusive in these times, especially when older, as I am, and things you treasured have been taken away.

    1. Thank you, Ms. Campbell, for reading my essay and responding to it. I often read your comments to Pulse writing, and I admire your insight and kindness. I hope that this finds you and your family doing well.

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