I’ve just finished one of the most hellish weeks of my life.
In the course of just 7 days, I’ve gone from business as usual, to finding out my grandma has an inoperable, extremely aggressive brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme that will, barring a miracle in the most literal sense of the word, kill her. Fast.
My family converged from all over the world. Hong Kong. Oklahoma City. Barcelona. Atlanta. Chicago. Dallas. Madison. Minneapolis. Washington D.C.
Some skated in right as travel bans began; others are now trying desperately to get back home before borders close, fighting literal price gouging by the airlines. But we all had a chance to shower my Mamaw with love.
And now with the unimaginable spread of COVID-19, we face one of the biggest global crises possibly since the last world war.
I work in the travel industry when I’m not writing about politics. So on top of death, illness and a global panic—there’s a very real chance my job is on the line.
It’s been a ride.
Yesterday as I rejoined my children after being away all week caring for my grandma and my mom, we were watching one of our kids’ current favorite movies, Frozen II. And—not that I necessarily look to Disney for life lessons, but I couldn’t help but glean a little something out of it.
For those who don’t know, in this installment, the city-state of Arendelle is thrown into chaos. I’ll spare you the details (those of you with toddlers and young children are already well-versed), but in short, they’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable crisis. There is no playbook for it; it’s totally new. Here’s one of the lines that stuck with me:
Just when you think you found your way, life will throw you on a new path. What do you do when it does? Don’t give up. Take it one step at a time…and just do the next right thing.
As they evacuate the city and wait on the hills above, Olaf (the magical snowman that Elsa and Anna once created) is surrounded by children playing with pieces of ice—sticking them into his face and making a beard out of it. When Anna and Elsa ask him just what exactly he’s doing, he goes, “Oh yeah we’re calling this, controlling what you can when things feel out of control.”
As I furiously typed a complaint to the FTC re the price gouging certain airlines are engaging in and continued to curse this entire situation writ large, I had an AHA moment.
No… I can’t control what’s happening with my grandma. I can’t control that my family might be trapped in Canada if the borders close, or be quarantined when they do make it back to Hong Kong. I can’t control whether or not I get a pay cut. I can’t control schools closing and stores being out of supplies. I can’t control whether or not I keep my job.
Here’s what I can control:
1. How often I turn to the Lord with my aches and pains and worries—and I can keep the world in my prayers. Ultimately this is OUT of our control, and I need to give this to God.
2. Keeping my calm in front of my kids, especially as COVID-19 worsens and limits our world even more.
3. Tell my grandma how much I love her every single day I still have her.
4. Limit my activities (gym, store, events, etc.) to help stop the spread of the virus. My husband and I can also look at working exclusively from home, and keep our kids home from daycare to ensure that those who absolutely NEED childcare (EMTs, firefighters, police, nurses, doctors, etc.) can still go to work. I can also attend my church virtually if need be, and send my tithes electrically.
5. I WILL NOT PANIC BUY. This is not Venezuela—there are enough supplies to go around if we all just CHILL OUT. No one needs 700 rolls of toilet paper or gallons of hand sanitizer. No one. And frankly, most of us have enough in our pantries and freezers ALREADY to last us weeks. It might get repetitive, but so what? We won’t starve.
6. I can give to those in need. I’ve got 2 packages of diapers too small for my son that I can give to someone who can’t find them at Target because of idiots who bought enough to keep their child diapered until they’re 21 years old.
Look, I was wrong about how this virus would go, and totally blindsided by what’s happening with my family. But I don’t have to spiral into a blubbering pile of tears and hyperventilation.
And neither do you.
Control what you can when things feel out of control.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV 700 Radio in Houston, and on Newsmax TV. She can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree