Devastation, Disruption, Despair, and Daffodils

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by Helen Baldwin |

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daffodils, optimism

(Photo by Helen Baldwin)

It seems fitting to address the current whammy threatening every single person on the planet.

It’s unfortunate that it’s a menacing global health upheaval bringing us together in myriad ways. On the other hand, maybe that’s what it’s taken to counter the relentless political squabbling and divisiveness. Sometimes I’ve limited my news exposure to not much more than our local forecast and community pages.

Some appreciate various distractions from nonstop COVID-19 coverage, at least sporadically. Others seek constant updates, terrified of the ramifications should someone in close proximity test positive.

I’m thankful I have too much going on to dwell on every single update, as most are not yet particularly encouraging. My lack of obsession is not due to lack of concern. My husband, Randy, and I are classified as “older,” with his risk factor elevated due to medication he’s taking.

My mother, whom I see almost every day, is 87. Living upstairs from her are our son, Matthew, and his family, which includes Clara, 4, and James, 2.

Almost exactly a year ago, James battled exceptionally vicious croup, caused in part by a “common” coronavirus. He was diagnosed last week with a ruptured eardrum and early signs of croup, and was scheduled for ear tubes and an adenoidectomy this week, a stressful decision for obvious reasons. (The surgery has been put on hold — both a disappointment and a relief.)

Additionally, my brother, Paul, is a physician in an urgent care facility and a mobile medical mission. He doesn’t complain, but he’s tired and expects to step up his duties — hopefully, with adequate protective gear. Special prayers go out to him and medical personnel all over the world.

Then there are the families who “shelter in” for months every single year in their vital quest to ward off killer germs. SMA families are well-versed in routine lockdown mode. COVID-19, however, is a whole new ballgame.

You bet I’m concerned.

I’m also an optimist.


Hurricane Hugo struck while Randy and I were living in Columbia, South Carolina. We tucked Matthew, 3, and our newborn daughter, Katie, into a small hall closet. Matthew proudly donned Randy’s old football helmet, and we placed Matthew’s play Clemson helmet on tiny Katie. Both slept soundly as their terrified folks prayed that the massive pine trees bending like rubber wouldn’t snap off and crush our house or my parents’ house nearby.

When daylight came, we were in absolute awe of God’s grace. Evidence of mind-boggling devastation with downed trees and electrical lines was everywhere, but our houses were spared. The air felt crystal clear (a gift for perpetually muggy Columbia!) with the most beautiful, bright blue sky I may have ever seen. Neighbors and others worked together to help clean up the reminder that our community and state had just survived one of Mother Nature’s biggest tests.

Twenty-two years later, the surreal, devastating events of 9/11 led to a keen sense of alertness regarding anything out of the ordinary. Communities and the nation as a whole banded together, forging ahead with a renewed sense of patriotism, camaraderie, and gratitude for the opportunity to participate in our country’s healing.

COVID-19, in a league by itself, acknowledges no borders. While the forefront of our attention is centered on the well-being of our own families, we collectively mourn worldwide for all other countries suffering losses of unimaginable magnitude.

And we brace ourselves for what may come next.


Besides doling out extra “MomMom” TLC while Matthew and Jill, our daughter-in-law, transition their teaching to online instruction, I’ve taken advantage of unusually mild weather to hike up our little mountain to our baby Jeffrey’s site, a place of calm and rejuvenation. I wouldn’t dare declare that we’re in the clear for spring, based on our past 24 winters in the North Carolina mountains, but the annual signs of hope abound all over.


I love flowers and yearn for landscaping that doesn’t look like a kindergarten project, but I’m especially smitten with daffodils. About the time we seem stuck with winter gloom, I spy the first indication — and then another — that once again, these sunny beacons aren’t about to disappoint.

Eager daffodils don’t wait on slowpoke crocuses (often credited as the first sign of spring), and while they tend to bloom before the final snow dump, it doesn’t matter. These godsends keep right on beaming optimistically, their uplifting dispositions exuding positivity to anyone slowing down enough to pay attention.

In these days of uncomfortable, unfamiliar uncertainty, I’m slowing down enough. I appreciate even more the timely arrival of daffodils, especially those at Jeffrey’s site.

In this God-given opportunity to share encouragement and optimism when both are in short supply, may we strive to be daffodils.

Early daffodils at Jeffrey’s site. (Photo by Helen Baldwin)


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


JoAnn Derden avatar

JoAnn Derden

I'm not familiar with the star grading; I certainly give this article 5 stars or more! I confess Helen Baldwin is my daughter and she happens to be the best writer I've ever read! That includes Dickens, Twain and all the rest! Helen brings her reader "onto the scene"
like no other, and even if that reader may have teared up a bit Helen will end her story on an uplifting note
which will make perfect sense of it all.
JoAnn Derden


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