I’ve had 3 episodes of 105 temperature… where the shivering is so violent that I thought my bones would break. I cough up so much solid red junk from my lungs that I can’t move afterwards.
On day 3, I went to the ER for X-rays and CT scans… where I was diagnosed with Covid pneumonia.. I was scheduled immediately for antibody infusions….
…and on day 4… when I couldn’t keep my oxygen above 88… my husband took me to the ER again and dropped me off at the door.
After countless labs and scans… The ER had to call 5 hospitals before they found a hospital an hour away that had ROOM to admit me…
I usually walk 2-4 miles a day in my life…
Today… I still can’t walk to the bathroom to pee withOUT shaking violently and having to have extra oxygen for the movement. I almost hyperventilate when I change positions of any type. And then it takes me 20-30 mins to recover.
They found blood clotting factors in my blood work so I’m on blood thinners… and my glucose numbers are abnormally high. I don’t have problems with diabetes…
The headaches and fevers have subsided with the addition treatments… finally
…but my lungs will have a long road to recovery… and that depends on how tomorrow goes.. they say day 6 is pivotal for if you get better .. or worse.
But for me… I think about my kids at home… going through the same illness… doing breathing treatments and monitoring oxygen levels and heart rates… knowing that God has us all in His hands… in His plans…
I’m trusting in Him as I have always done.
But I am so glad that I spent the last year of my life protecting them and the people around me.. from this COVID… This “definitely NOT a cold” virus…
Over the last six years, our family has chosen to bring young people from around the world into our home, into our lives .. and into our hearts.
.. and I have loved every minute of it.
I started hosting exchange students so that I could share the country that I love with the rest of the world…
… what I got?
These beautiful souls… they gave me the world.
A big beautiful world.
But ever since January?
The world has seemed a little smaller. We have been watching as the Corona virus has edged closer.. covering distances that look so far away on the map.
Edged closer to us in the USA..
… but scary for us… closer to my adopted exchange children scattered around the globe…
My current exchange student watched as it affected her country… the beautiful Thailand.
… we watched how it affected the countries on the other side of the world, while we continued to live life … trying to enjoy every moment…
As countries started to go into lockdown, we watched Italy where one of our girl’s family lives.
.. along with the UK where she was at school. Checking in when she was trying to get back home to Italy after the flights were getting cancelled.
At the same time watching Egypt… checking in with my sweet Egyptian girl when I hadn’t heard from her in a while.
.. and South Korea… Relieved that their numbers weren’t as severe, even being close to China…
.. and Turkey… talking with my girl there as she needed to leave her college and return to her hometown. To pray as she took a long bus ride with possible sick people….
… then as it got closer to our part of the world.. I added Brazil to the countries we watched…
… and Columbia… the daughter that just went home…
… And we watched Liberia where my sister was working…
… Not to mention ALL of the pieces of my heart that live in Germany, Spain, Sweden, Belgium…
We watched as this virus shut down each state in the US… one by one. As the sick count grew.. and the deaths started to rise…
…and I could go on…
I have family around the world now…
… and a love for people and places around the world…
… a love for food from around the world….
But this virus has taught me something else…
As I watched all of my daughters talk about being quarantined.. a few saying that they can’t even STEP outside. They can’t go to the store.. or work..
All of them saying they need to stay at home.
I can see so much clearer how similar we ALL are..
We all are a little worried about the virus…
…we are ALL worried about each other….
We ALL miss our family a little bit more when we can’t see each other….
Ha… and we are all very bored and can’t wait for it to be done.
In this world that I choose to live in?
It is so easy to see how we are all in this TOGETHER…
…together in love and spirit… even if we are separated by miles and oceans…
And even though my heart hurts a little bit more today… having the pieces of my heart divided all around this big beautiful world… I am so thankful for this world that I choose to live in.
Today as I pray for my family here in my house.. my family here in Michigan.. my family around the world…. I pray they stay healthy… but I also pray that they have joy and laughter in their lives while they are quarantined…
…. and a healthy dose of patience with the world… as we ALL are trying to figure out the next step…
This theatre season, my cast worked through enormous obstacles to perform Les Miserables.
And then .. on opening night?
Covid-19 starting shutting down all assembling of groups.
So 10 weeks of hard work.. and the kids were only allowed to perform for their families. The cast was heartbroken… but they wiped their tears… and performed an awe-inspiring opening night.
I could NOT have been more proud.
This experience is a little surreal…
Surreal in the sense that everything was so different from where we were 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago, I was reminding the kids to hang up their costumes and to clean up their own messes.. and to turn in tee shirt money.
And today… I am JUST praying that each of my cast members stays safe and healthy..
But it is also surreal for me in the sense… that ALL of my life I have been studying Plagues and epidemics .. and pandemics. The Black Death.. the Spanish flu (that started in The US)… siege sicknesses, the viruses that wiped out the Natives, etc..
Not so much for the illnesses or the deaths… because death and suffering saddens me…
…but how those illnesses.. and the fear… and the chaos affected the people. And how those effects changed the course of history.
How poor people could suddenly own land…
…How our children still sing “Ring around the rosies”.. to ward off evil spirits…
And here we are… smack in the middle of what WILL BECOME history. Someday, kids will be studying about the Covid-19 pandemic of 2019.. and wonder how the “population coped with the terror” and the isolation..
I wonder if the history books will tell how we had a shortage of toilet paper… and no shortage of the conspiracy theories?
Or will the future history books say that the “population” learned from the history books of the past? Will the history books state how we all chose to obey isolation and quarantined ourselves at home?
Will the history books say how we banded together to give each other hope for a future?
Because we WILL have a future.
Even the worst plagues… the survivors dusted off their hats.. picked up the pieces of their lives.. and made a future for themselves.
And little by little?
We learned from them. From the survivors. We learned to wash our hands. We learned to quarantine ourselves if we have been exposed. We learned not to panic.. and not to take the virus to the next town in our panic.
We HAVE so much knowledge at our fingertips THANKS to the records and observations kept of those pandemics in history.
Because we have learned from our history? We find ourselves in quarantine BEFORE it gets too bad. We find ourselves bored and creating funny memes about isolation “cabin fever”.. while we wait for the virus to run it’s course.
But … we will ALSO find ourselves with a better future.
A future that MAY hold graduations later in the summer. A future with delayed vacations.. delayed celebrations ..
A future with strange new school routines.
A future that has changed us all in small ways…
For me? I’m praying that my future has our cast performing Les Miserables when the crisis is over.
And I’m praying that when we hear Marius sing about empty chairs and empty tables… that there are no empty chairs in our community..
I’m praying there are no empty chairs in our cast…
And I’m definitely praying that we did our part enough.. that I won’t have ANY empty chairs in my family.
But even if we never hear our cast sing a song rejoicing in “one day more”… ?
I’m happy that our nation and our schools gave them their best chance at being able to sing another day.
This weekend we performed Grease at Maple Valley..
…and by “we”… I REALLY mean..
“I wasn’t anywhere on stage at all.. nor did I play an instrument .. nor did I make sure a microphone was on.. nor did I make sure the lights were pointed at the right part of the stage. But I did HOLD back the curtain so it didn’t get caught in the Grease Lightning tires.”
So when everyone congratulated “ME” on a job well done? I feel like I’m a fraud for saying “thank you”.
I actually do a very small part of the magic you see on Maple Valley’s stage.
I have 2 other directors who help me. Miss Rachel directs the music .. but she doesn’t stop with her job description. She stays until the end and helps with blocking and characterization. She encourages these kids on and off the stage. I can’t imagine doing this job without her. Then our Mr. Rosin picks up the slack where we need it, helping kids learn music they miss in rehearsal and helping kids perfect their scenes near the end of production .. which frees me up to fix scene changes and costumes.
I had 2 student directors this season. Maddy and Emily. These 2 girls were workhorses. They kept us all organized and helped me come up with ideas and carry them out. I called them the “2 halves of my brain”.. and I appreciated all of their work. Emily took over the administrative side of my brain.. while still performing. And Maddy kept the backstage crew (and me) organized.
Our choreography was designed by a student, Kayli. She spent hours creating the choreo.. and hours teaching and reteaching the choreo. She spent extra time making sure it was a dance that would be fun for the kids to learn and perform. And it SHOWED!!
The performers!! Where do I start? This group of performers are talented, motivated .. and I encourage them to be responsible and take on leadership of their own roles.. and often give them other roles as well. I ask them to design their own costumes.. create characterization for the chorus roles.. and push them out of their comfort zone. And they OWN the stage and they Wow the audiences that come to see them.
The tech crew was led by a former graduate, Liam. I told them our needs and would guide them with levels.. and they organized everything else.
Our set crew volunteers on the weekends and late nights (and show weekend intermissions). Building and painting our set outside of rehearsal time. My poor husband guides a group of parents and students to create the set that we need.. often with poorly drawn sketches that I give him.. and the tight restrictions of a smaller school with a small door access. We had a dad design and build our Greased Lightning car!! And yet they do it with grace and help me keep the kids on a good budget. These sets give the performers a high class set on a small school budget.. and they don’t get enough credit.
The backstage crew often comes in at the end when the set is finally complete.. and has to learn the show (and its cues) in a short time. They fight the tight constraints of a small stage, change elaborate scenes in a small amount of time.. and patiently listen when I say we need to do it faster. These kids are in the back in black.. and are never in the spotlight. But they help the performers to shine .. The backstage crew is as important to me as any of the performers are!
The parent extraordinaires… so many of them. Coming in day after day to alter 30 prom dresses. Searching totes for the perfect costume for each performer. Moms and friends who go to every Goodwill in a 50 mile radius looking for pants in a very specific size and style.. or the prop I can’t seem to find. Moms who create 7 felt poodles for poodle skirts, because I think it would add a nice touch. Parents who come up with ways to print giant posters and fake magazine covers.. and others who contact the newspapers to get the show publicity. Moms and sisters who take pictures to capture the memories. Moms who take time from their busy schedules to make sure we have posters and tickets.. and a thriving concession stand… and programs that not only look good but have staples too. The ticket sellers, the potluck organizers, the bottle cap searchers, the snack providers, the clean up crew.. I could list every single thing these amazing people do.. but it would take forever.
Our orchestra pit are volunteers who take time out of their busy schedule to make our stage come alive with the magic of a live orchestra. This adds so much energy to our productions. They Bless us so much!!
And the makeup and hair crew.. making everyone look beautiful and era appropriate!!!
All I did was keep these groups organized and on a schedule. Encouraged them to keep their grades up.. and their chins up.
By the time production weekend comes along? They don’t need me at all. They own this stage.. they own this auditorium..
The beauty of Grease belongs to this whole group.. mostly Maple Valley students.. with some beautiful adults sprinkled in for support.
As for me? I’m in the back… holding back a curtain. My only job left? Being available for support if they need it.
So if you tell me “good job”…
…and I say “thank you”..
What I REALLY mean is.. “thank you on behalf of All of us directors, the talented actors, the backstage crew, the tech crew, the parents, the supporters… etc.” #theatrelife