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We start learning about life's ups and downs at an early age.
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Lisa Graff

Life’s ups and downs


Life’s ups and downs

Perhaps you have played the popular children’s game Chutes and Ladders? When you land on a good space, you move your man up the ladder to advance to the winning spot. When you land on a chute, you slide back down.

Living through the pandemic is like playing Chutes and Ladders. You went up the ladder and received the first vaccine. But when your attempts failed to secure a second shot, down you went.

You get a correspondence from a beloved family member or friend, so you climb up. We walk as far as we can, and then realize the pain is too much and it’s time for surgery. Next you learn that a sweet friend has been diagnosed with cancer and the chute seems bottomless.

Chutes and Ladders is billed as “The classic up and down game for preschoolers,” but this game is what all of us play every day of our lives whether there is a pandemic or not.

As seniors, we know about life’s ups and downs, but this time it’s different. Many of us feel isolated, lonely, depressed, anxious, angry and impatient. There are too many steps to climb. No answers to our questions.

Several of my friends have resorted to a zoom support group, which has reminded me of how critical it is to talk about our feelings and not just pretend that we are fine. I don’t feel fine, do you?

I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the pandemic let alone living it each day. So this has led me to thinking about a different type of pandemic, the epidemic of war.

In November, 2012, my column “Honoring our own veterans,” caught the attention of Kimberly Blanch from Beebe’s Outreach program, who invited me to view the film Almost Sunrise at Delaware Technical College.

This documentary follows two Iraq veterans, Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, as they make a 2,700 mile trek across America to deal with their painful memories of the Iraq war. They weren’t fine. They needed healing.

Working with Sue Early at the Rehoboth Film Society and the Larence Kirby, the director of the Delaware Commission of Veteran’s Affairs, we were finally ready to launch a May 2020 showing, and then the pandemic tidal wave surged over top of us.

Watching this film reaffirmed my belief that if we don’t acknowledge personal pain, it doesn’t abate. In fact, it worsens. Their story was about the power of silence and meditation. They felt restored. How can we restore ourselves?

Instead of a zoom book club or a zoom academic meeting of any kind, perhaps we can zoom in groups to hear each other’s laughter through tears. The rainy days have prevented our treks around the neighborhoods, but warmer weather will come and we will climb out of our pajamas. Hopefully by the time this column is published, you will have achieved your vaccination goal. Up the ladder you go, my friend!

Almost Sunrise is available on Netflix and Amazon.


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Published in Cape Gazette on February 28, 2021. Read Here

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