On a lovely summer’s day last week, my son and his girlfriend finally graduated from university. I say ‘finally’ because, like all paths undertaken during the last few years, their journey has not been an easy one. Confused, distraught, and occasionally boxed in, they’ve persevered regardless.
Like all students during the pandemic, their classes were up-ended, changing overnight from in-person to on-line. Discussions with their teachers, once so easy to initiate, suddenly became obstacle courses of frustration. Everyone had questions and concerns, and email inboxes were quickly overrun. Opportunities that had taken months to set up, were washed by the wayside, possibly never to return. It was easy to become discouraged.
In the midst of all that, we were also dealing with big familial stresses. Julia had been moved into a nursing home less than two years before, and although she had been in excellent health for years, she was starting to decline. Just when she needed us, it was virtually impossible to visit with her. Relatives from far away were confused about what was going on, and needed to be assuaged. Supports that we thought would hold firm, swayed and then broke.
Work was also difficult. No one knew how well Julia’s business would fare during the pandemic, and it was already reeling from the loss of her. Her self, her voice, her story. She had always been the heart and soul of our business, and now, in addition to that uncertainty, we were now dealing with the world shifting beneath our feet. We had no reassurances. We had no idea what might happen.
There were days when it was extremely difficult to get out of bed. I would try to think of something good to look forward to, anything positive to propel me forward. On many days, food felt like the only thing good in my life – the possibility of a nice grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. That first cup of hot coffee. On other days, it was the serenity of the park as I walked my dog, watching the trees gently shifting above me.
We pulled together as a family. We put one foot in front of the other, and just kept going. Sometimes soft encouragement did the trick. Sometimes active pulling was required. Every once in awhile, someone would break down and need extra emotional support. We did the best we could to attend to everyone’s needs. I’m immensely proud of the way we’ve held each other together and supported one another through this extended series of challenges.
My sons learned valuable lessons along the way. Don’t give up. Keep focused on the job before you. Try not to become distracted by worries and fears that may not come true. Look out for one another. Be kind. Always be mindful of how someone else might be struggling. Don’t judge. Listen closely and show compassion.
And now, after such a long journey through a world fraught with darkness, it feels good to finally celebrate a clear win. I have nothing but hope for these two. I fervently wish that their next few steps will be easier. It is my hope that they continue to walk with confidence towards their future, in a world that is still quaking with change.
The last few years have been so difficult for so many of us. More than anything, I wish the same things to all of you. May your hopes be fulfilled and your future bright. May challenges that once seemed impossible be suddenly swept away. Thank you to everyone who has supported, and continues to support us throughout these challenging times. You mean the world to us.
About the author: Rebecca Wong has an honours degree in English Literature from the University of Waterloo, and has been working in the herbal business since 2000. She has received her training in acupuncture and herbalism from respected authorities Paul Des Rosiers and Vu Le at the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Toronto, and Michael Tierra at the East West Herb School in California.