Flowers growing out of concrete.

If you’ve been alive for the last two and a half years, you probably are (like me) carrying the heavy weight of post-COVID trauma. Maybe you know people who fell victim to the virus and died. Maybe you lost your job, or are carrying the guilt of terminating beloved members of your work team. Maybe you had a falling out with family or friends who disagreed with you on matters of masking, the COVID vaccine or sheltering in place. To add insult to injury, this significant period in our world’s history took place in a time where everything is politicized, if not over-politicized.

Then we got back to a place that felt like “normal.” Small businesses and restaurants reopened, you didn’t have to shank anyone over the last roll of toilet paper at the store and people began returning to their beige cubicles and team pods in droves to get back to work. Everything, I thought, was going to be a-okay.

Until it wasn’t.

The grand exit (?) of the physical health crisis made room for a mental health crisis that continues today, that I personally believe will outlive the total effects of COVID – even as the virus lingers on. People are scared, angry, restless and impatient. They are in a situation they can’t control, so they lash out at the other. In a time that closely resembles normal, it doesn’t feel normal, and that freaks people out.

In each one of my God-given vocations, I have seen the mental breakdowns – however significant – lived out by people I love dearly. So trust and believe that while 2019-2020 didn’t wear me out, 2021-2022 has worn me out three-million times over.

BUT. Let me tell you that while 2021 and 2022 have been as thick, dense, heavy and debilitating as concrete, there are some flowers that have pushed their way gloriously through that concrete sidewalk and have confidently turned their faces to the sun. And they, slowly but surely, encouraged me to surface so that I too might feel the light and warmth of life.

From left to right: Franque, Katquie, Veroniqua, just me, Michquelle, Therquesa, Megquan, Erquin and Carqua

These beloved friends are also my co-workers. Before COVID, we tended to run in different groups. But after we all came back to the office, things became different. We now often eat lunch together, and last night we decided to hang out like “real friends” and have a joint birthday party for everyone – because we like identifying efficiencies, I think.

We had a blast. We went to a local board game cafe, and I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in the last three years. I almost laughed so hard I peed my pants, which probably last happened seven years ago.

The joy in these photos is palpable. I thank God every day for these people.

COVID was truly a tragedy. But (like most tragedies), some of God’s best gifts can and will break through the cracks, because He is good.