Stop And Breathe

The news was plagued with the virus,

And I felt like I was drowning.

It was the first night of quarantine

So I started a puzzle to distract myself.

But as I sat in the mess of a thousand uncertainties,

searching to make sense of it all,

I once again felt like I was drowning.

But how long does it take to actually drown?

How long can you hold your breath before your lungs give out?

The wind slammed itself against my door.

Stop. And breathe.

On the fifth night, I picked at the unfinished puzzle.

All around, faces were half covered,

and all that were visible were eyes.

Confused, scared, angry, even impassive.

But there were comforting eyes too.

“We’re all confused by this,” they read.

So I found comfort in that.

It’s too easy to feel detached

when everyone is quarantined in their separate worlds.

It’s too easy to feel alone

when you can’t be with family

and all you hear are discouraging news.

Stop. And breathe.

Because no one is alone in their feelings.

No one is alone with what’s going on.

Solidarity and compassion—

they’re what weaves us together

through our decision to remain apart.

So breathe. And breathe again.

Within a week, I found the borders of the puzzle.

But there were still so many loose pieces,

Scattered like the rain falling outside.

Yes, flowers still grow after the tempest

and the sun still shines after the darkest dawn.

But how many tomorrows? I wondered.

And so you reminded me—

You can’t control life, but

you can control how you respond.

The most beautiful people are those who have survived

defeat, suffering, struggles, loss, and yet

have stumbled their way out of the depths.

We can all be one of those beautiful people too.

Last night, I dreamt we sat in a golden field.

The sun felt warm on my arms

as it painted auburn streaks in your hair.

Somewhere, interweaving voices laughed

and the bell of an ice cream truck tinkled.

You smiled as you watched me

bent over writing wishes, love letters

before folding them into paper planes.

The breeze picked up and we released them,

watching them fly into the sunset—

hopeful in change.

It was morning again.

I woke up and looked around my room.

For the first time, I noticed that my puzzle,

well, it was almost complete.

I miss love letters.

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