I walked into my bedroom and was greeted by a wonderful sight. Balloons, new earrings, a mini cheesecake, and a pack of gum were spread out on my dresser. What a wonderful way to start my new year!
The next day, my happy and hopeful feelings for the future faded when I was hit hard by the magnitude of another reality—COVID-19, the virus that turned our world upside down. On my birthday, my feelings of hope and joy were replaced with fear and despair. Would the city shut down? How would I continue working? Faced with frightening unknowns, I made a hasty decision to go home to my parents in Colorado. It was less than a month until Pesach, so I would certainly figure out what to do for that short time. This COVID thing wouldn’t last too long, right? Monday morning I packed in a frenzy, leaving half my wardrobe in Crown Heights, and got on a flight to Denver.
Upon landing, I felt ill at ease about how things would pan out. I would be at home with seven siblings after living in an apartment with friends. Still, I kept my chin up, grateful that I wasn’t stuck in New York, where it felt like everything was falling apart. Thus began the long month from Purim to Pesach . . . Those first couple of weeks were difficult. Adjusting was hard, and everyone in my family was learning to cope with this new reality. I felt unproductive, anxious, and irritable. Would life ever feel “normal” again?
There were some days I would go to sleep at 2 or 3 am, something I don’t do during “regular life.” The next day, feeling silly waking up at 11 am, I’d push myself to get out of bed “on time” so my day would be productive. But there wasn’t anything to do. I wasn’t stimulated. What was the point of the extra time? I tried to tell myself kind and positive talk. It was not easy. The mornings were pretty good—I’d feel fresh and hopeful. But by noon I was bored, and filled with an empty feeling in my heart and stomach. I tried tapping into an idea I'd heard, “appreciate the ones with whom you are stuck,” but all I wanted to do was get away from everyone. Everyone was getting on my nerves.
When Pesach arrived, I felt somewhat relieved. We finally had a chance to have an intimate family seder, something that had never happened before since we typically have large community sedarim. Despite a lovely Pesach, a sense of dread still loomed over the future.
The week after Pesach, I made a couple of decisions that had a huge impact on my COVID life.
I was out of a “real” job, and my father offered me the opportunity to start a project he had been considering for a while, an at-home volunteer project for kids. I contemplated his offer carefully. I would be staying in Colorado, but with the possibility of becoming much busier and filled with purpose. I took the position and jumped right in, immersing myself in the many aspects of the project. Website, social media, suppliers, packing, shipping, organizing . . . the list goes on. Some days I barely had time to eat lunch.
On top of my newfound busyness, I had to make time for completing “one hundred days of sweat”—a commitment to working out for a hundred days. It was tough getting started and waking up at 6:30 am to work out. Thankfully, this routine left me feeling energized and motivated.
I also started going on daily walks with my sister. This short hour filled me with so much joy. We'd watch sunset and just about dance down the street listening to our favorite music. The spring energy filled our veins, and I'm telling you, the sidewalks were able to feel it. All the people passing by gave us a knowing smile, “You are enjoying this life of yours!”
Hiking became a Sunday ritual. Colorado has so much to offer, and I loved immersing myself in nature. At the conclusion of each hike, I would feel refreshed and reborn, ready to conquer the week ahead.
The days and weeks passed quickly. Before I knew it, I was on an errand to purchase thirty pounds of cream cheese so we could make and sell cheesecakes for Shavuos. One of my favorite holidays was right around the corner.
A couple of weeks later, I was sitting at a spot that overlooks the mountains, and noticed a sense of peace wash over me. All the uncertainty, anxiety, and fear from the pandemic seemed so far away. I felt liberated. From the moment COVID disrupted my life, Hashem was always one step ahead of me. He led me through each difficult moment and guided me in my decisions. He gave me the chance to fill my life with joy, connection, and meaning. My heart overflowed with gratitude. I looked up at the sky and whispered, “Thank you Hashem for my twenty-third birthday gift!”
So there you have it, another inspiring coronavirus article.
So there you have it, another inspiring coronavirus article. You might be thinking this article is a little redundant, and late in the game at that. Well, that’s just it—it shouldn’t be. I recently reread Rabbi Aron Moss’s response to the panic COVID created in people’s hearts and minds. His words left a major impact on me. Here is an excerpt: “It is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty. We never had it to begin with. . . . What will happen next? We don’t know. Only G-d knows. . . . Embrace the cluelessness. Because in all the confusion there is one thing you know for sure. You are in G-d’s hands.”
This was my big AHA! moment, one even greater than my post-Shavuos epiphany. After the reality of COVID set in, I was on a mission to find the hashgacha pratis in the difficult situation. I realized that Hashem was with me all along. Yet I was still missing something, because the truth is, Hashem was always there—even before COVID. And He always will be there. The only difference between now and then is our perspective; we have always been in His hands.
As we begin a new year, it is my hope that we carry the perspective COVID forced upon us through each and every moment of our lives. Because then, if Hashem throws another curveball at us, we’ll be ready to knock the ball out of the park and prove that no matter the situation, we trust and know that we are always in His hands.
Rivka Miriam grew up in Colorado and has a love for sharing her passion for life through writing.
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