3 min read



Here in the US, actual people (that I know!) are getting their vaccines. There's a buzz in the air -- "Things are going to return to normal!"

For the last six years, "normal" has been a question on a "How are your symptoms?" questionnaire.

"On a scale of 1-10, how does your pain relate to normal?"

"How active were you this week as compared to normal?"

I finally started saying "What's normal?"

Six years ago, I wrote like a madwoman and went to PT in the hope of avoiding surgery.

And before that?

Quite honestly, I can't remember.

So let's say "normal" was before I went to have my first surgery. That would be 2016.

I wrote books, lots of books, went to PT, and regularly went out with friends. I had a mastermind friend that I met with for lunch every other week for 15 years. I went to the coffee shop that's in The Fey. We took ballroom dancing and hanged out with the ballroom dance crowd. We went to dinner parties and started a series of dinners with my neighbors. I zoomed with a group of paranormal writers and participated in a number of compilations.

My life was full of people and projects.

But when you get really sick, people start disappearing from your life.

The first to go was my mastermind friend. I never would have scheduled the surgery without him. So I owe him a debt there. He said,"Don't worry. We'll watch movies and eat junk food. It will be fun." By the time the actual surgery came around, he had stopped taking my calls or texted and unfriended me on social media. There wasn't a fight or a problem really. I didn't say "the wrong thing." (When you grow up around schizophrenics, this is a life long fear, and certainly mine.) He just walked away. (The cool kids call this "ghosting.") I'd had lunch with him, every other week, through thick and thin of his life, for nearly 15 years.

We tried to go back to ballroom dance in between surgeries, but my leg wasn't functioning well . The teacher freaked out about it. We had to stop ballroom dance. Without dance, the dance friends faded away.

I was so sick after my first surgery that we couldn't support the dinner group we'd started. (Of course, they would have stopped with Covid.)

My neighbors live busy lives and spun away.

The paranormal writing group folded.

Within a month of my first surgery, nearly everyone I'd spent time with before was gone from my life. Some left deliberately. Others just went on with their lives leaving me behind.

I had another spine fusion on March 3rd. While I was in the hospital, Covid struck.

Everyone's normal shifted.

Now, everyone's normal is starting to shift back.

Except mine.

I don't have a normal.

I have lived day to day, sometimes moment to moment, for such a long time that I can't imagine "normal."

As for friends, there have been some lovely people who have been there for me through thick and thin. They've dropped off food or met me places or included me in their lives (as much as I could be involved.) A couple came to see me in the hospital.

And, most certainly, the husband and the feral Plott hounds remain steady friends.

I need to plot a journey to building a life.

I'm not sure how or what or even where to start.

In someways, we are all in the same boat.

All of our "normals" have shifted.

Many of the places we hung out have closed. We still need to be wearing masks and socially distancing. Many people are struggling to take on the mantle of their busy, overstretched lives.

So all of us are looking at "normal" and wondering what it is.

For me, it's a big, gigantic question mark.

In some ways, the question mark is exciting. Everything is open. Anything is possible.

In other ways, it's as if there is a line on the ground.

Step over the line and...