Glasses with Question Mark Lenses

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The first time I experienced a deep loss, that left me feeling like I was wearing glasses with question mark lenses, was back in 1995. Now that we are over a month into social distancing and stay at home orders, I feel as if I am back to wearing those glasses once again. Certainty has been replaced by uncertainty. What will life be like now? How do I do this? Why? What really matters? Allow me to tell you a bit more about what happened in 1995 that evoked this image.

Jennifer Ann Owen was a cherished friend of mine. She died of lupus in 1995. Jenny and I navigated a rare journey from being friends, boyfriend and girlfriend, and back to friends again. We had a sacred pact that we would talk about the real stuff of life. She knew that I would ask her about lupus; it was not a friendship of “making nice”. And she asked me about the hard stuff in my life. We shared tears and laughter and hopes and disappointments. I always looked forward to our long lunches. Honesty can be both frightening and refreshing. With Jenny, it was wonderfully renewing.

When I got a call from Jenny’s mom that she had passed, it devastated me. I had lost relatives and others in my life by then. This was just so much more personal. Even as I write this now, twenty-five years later, I feel the emotions welling up. The depth of the loss of that sacred friendship left me with more questions than answers. And my dear friend, who I could count on to talk about all of this, was gone.

There is a lot of conversation about what will be the “new” normal going forward. Life will not be like it was before the pandemic for a long time, if ever. We are experiencing a deep loss of what we collectively knew as normal. We need to acknowledge and grieve that loss. In the midst of that grief, we are bound to feel a lot of uncertainty – like we are looking at life through glasses with question mark lenses. It is part of the process and cannot be skipped. My dear friend Jenny gave me the opportunity to learn that lesson in my heart and not just my head. The real stuff of life always offers that invitation.

“We are all agents of change.”
                            ~ Kevin Buck