"Enjoy The Small Things"
by A.J. Rasmussen
Today, May 15th, 2021, was my first visit since March 8th, 2020. That is 435 days ago. My mom and I had just spent 48 hours together in one of the extended family visiting trailers, and although we were aware of this new thing called Covid, neither of us imagined that as we went our own way that day, we would be apart for so long. This was about 14 times longer than we'd ever gone without seeing each other.
It has been 435 days loaded with great difficulty. I am sure it has been extremely difficult outide these fences for those who are free, but in here, we've been completely severed from all family members and friends. We have also been cut from most all educational programming, church programming, ability to lift weights, all self-change programming, cut off from three-quarters of our friends inside here, our outside yard taken away, and forced to walk on eggshells in regards to wearing masks and socially distancing, or face retribution of punishment if either were not followed. Staff began using this mask wearing and social distancing stuff as a weapon to punish people in a time that was already beyond bearable for us. Stress levels have been at an all-time high inside here, aggression up, massive amounts of drug usage, and pruno production and drinking out of cotrol. Pure hell is the best way to describe this place the past 435 days.
After so much time with life seeming to have this new normal that we either adapt to, or continue to suffer, a silver-lining finally broke through the fog of anxiety-filled, depressed, and lonely days. About three weeks ago, the medical tents were moved, giving us our yard back. Two weeks ago, we were given back our weight deck. And last Sunday, visiting returned. The visits are no-contact, and we only get to see two people at a time, one time per month for one hour, but it is a start. Things are slowly looking up, thank God!
As I sit out here on the patio, sun shining down, I feel at peace. It is close to 80 degrees, warmer than normal for this time of year, a slight breeze, and I've got Blake Shelton singing God's Country in my ears as my duck friends munch down on the bread left for them. Across the Monroe Valley from me, towering over downtown, sit the snow covered Cascade Mountains. It doesn't get more beautiful and serene than this moment, at this location.
Sure . . . there were numerous moments through these 435 days that I'd hoped to go to sleep and not awake the next morning, but I've made it. In the process of difficulty comes the most lessons and growth. And in the end, you learn to be thankful for the smallest of things - most notably, the family and friends who remain by my side, who have walked each difficult step of the way, with me.
Enjoy The Small Things . . . Because they are BIG!