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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