I wish

Hello, all you cool cats and kittens!

Crud. Sorry about that. I’ve been quarantined for the last 102 years (approximately) and have watched way too much “Tiger King” on Netflix (don’t judge…you’ve binged it too).

The streaming service has been an oasis of predictability these days. I’ve needed that stability.

My life, like yours, has been tossed into a blender. My speaking and shooting schedules are in disarray. Projects have been defunded and collaborations delayed. Our daughters are adjusting to the tectonic shift in their social and academic worlds as high school lurches into homeschool and best friends fade into hand-held abstractions in their phones, a trauma they could feel for years.

The King Kong atop my Jenga skyscraper of anxiety is the very real possibility of getting sick myself, watching helplessly as the coronavirus annihilates my parents and in-laws and family and friends, or unintentionally bringing the disease home to infect my kids and immuno-compromised wife.

I know the small, dark hours of the morning far better now. That’s when my worst fears break quarantine and trample through the sanctuaries in my mind that I’ve tried to keep clean and pure.

I’ve careened between denial (“Ain’t no way I’m gonna get sick because AMERICA!”), terror (“We’re living in the director’s cut of the movie Contagion), anger (“PUT A MASK ON! WASH YOUR HANDS! STAY HOME! LET ME TAKE YOUR PICTURE AND SPEAK AT YOUR EVENT VIRTUALLY, PLEASE!”) and toxic positivity (“Everything happens for a reason!” and “Failure is not an option!” and “It could be worse!” and “Always look on the bright side!”).

This is grief – raw, personal, communal, and nonlinear. I’ve been unwilling to accept that label and its five stages because I used to believe you could only mourn the loss of life, not a way of life. How wrong I was.

I’ve learned that there is a sixth stage of grief where you find meaning for the pain, the strength to look back in love, and the hope to move forward in gratitude and humility. For me, that stage manifests itself in a personal wish list:

I wish every bank and credit union in the world will budget for a huge pay and appreciation package for the #FinancialFirstResponders who have turned themselves inside out to serve the customers and members whose lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down.

I wish I knew that the 2020 CUNA GAC would be the last major event I’d attend, and NCUF’s Herb Wegner Memorial Awards would be the last event at which I’d speak, for a while.

I wish I could get my hair cut because I’m looking like Syndrome from The Incredibles.

I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller.

I wish more folks understood that reference.

I wish I could tell you about the documentary film and photography project I’m working on, the largest and most significant of my career, but the time isn’t right.

I wish I could show you more of my upcoming photo book about breast cancer survivors, but the time isn’t right on that, either. 

I wish I could freeze every remaining moment we have with our daughters under our roof because I’m certain we carried them home in newborn perfection from the hospital just yesterday.

I wish I could hug Ronaldo Hardy and everyone else I know who has lost someone to COVID-19.

I wish my wife knew, especially during this season of battle against breast cancer and a clot in her heart, that she’s still the most beautiful woman in the world to me.

I wish we all knew that miracles still happen.

And I wish we could finally discover what really happened to Carole Baskin’s husband.

Crud. Sorry about that.

Andy Janning

Andy Janning

Andy Janning is the author of the books Heroes, Villains, and Drunk Old Men and The Breast Cancer Portrait Project, an 8-time state and national award winner for overall excellence ... Web: andyjanning.com Details