All is Quiet…

I held hands with a small group of relatives in my new Vine Grove, KY., home on New Year’s Eve and asked everyone to inhale and then exhale as we crossed over to a new start amidst pain and turmoil all around. Up to that moment, all holiday plans were halted, canceled or deterred by external forces we could not control. We simply could not force the universe to comply. We had to accept that we could not attain the perfect day of tradition, celebration and/or simply a universal memory amenable to all.

In the dining room, a small motley crew gathered — embattled and barely standing. We were bruised by these recent years — COVID, life, loss — and fatigued as we joined together eye-to-eye after these disruptions. Many of our loved ones were not there, and the few assembled were not the same. Each one of us was at a different point in our journeys and the only common denominator, this night, was the familial connection of blood and marriage. 

Some of us freaked out and isolated over the last few years.  Many of us indulged, in any way possible for our own survival, with various addictions: work, substance abuse, food, exercise, etc. Some were starting lives in new homes with little ones who were just old enough to begin forming core memories.  

As I looked around the room, I saw disappointment and sadness, but there was also laughter at old stories not thought about in quite some time and general exhaustion with the stress of holiday expectations. The reactions were varied and moved about the room in waves.  

There was evidence of deterioration from age, personal sickness and separation. I called for a joining of hands and a simple statement that would speak to everyone in the room.  I realize that I, truly, did not know where everyone was — spiritually — in the room, but I did not want that to stop us from creating a brief pause and acknowledgement to a greater power, a simple space to be wherever we were on our spiritual path and still feel loved and accepted with the freedom to channel our own personal beliefs into the moment, even if it was a simple exhale into silence in our chaotic gathering.  

We squeezed one another’s hands, inhaled on command, and let out a long exhale that sent a cacophony of emotions and thoughts out of our bodies. Everyone was welcomed to call upon their own deity or simply to send out a reflection, release, plea, wish and/or intention for a new year, and we were all battle-weary on various levels. This evening, we took our struggles, blessings and pain, and marked the moment in our minds — acknowledging this time, our first holiday in a new home, with family, after isolation. 

The need in the room was palpable, and these were all my people, my tribe, my story, my blood.  So many experiences were present, and each one was worthy of space. 

My family? We are American mutts, rooted in mixed races who were thrown together by the only option to join the middle class that our poverty-stricken fathers found — the military. We are the outcome of a Mexican fruitpicker from East L.A. who married a fair-skinned coal miner’s daughter from Hopkins County. My family is a blended one, like so very many of yours are now, and we have stories to share.

Join me in this small space I want to create for us, a storytelling adventure with tales from my family, as we are, sometimes barely hanging on, with multigenerational curses and blessings that have joined us together around this dinner table, in a little town built upon a small military post.Maybe, just maybe, you might see yourself or your family in my stories.

 I’m a first-generation college graduate who looks Mexican, like my father, raised by a blonde white woman — a woman who never fully understood why she chose her own path.  

Now an ex-social worker/therapist,  I have worked under license and with no license. I lost my career through disability, and gained a new identity in that small death. My life bears witness. My stories will, too.

I’m you, you’re me, and we’re still, even after these years of isolation and quarantine, in this together. •


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About the Author

All is Quiet…

Christina Estrada is a lifelong seeker of light in the darkness wearing a variety of hats including, but not limited to: student/teacher, survivor/healer, mother/child, therapist/client, introverted extrovert. At present, a disabled wife and mother with stories and thoughts from five decades of life and 30 years of social work, inpatient and outpatient.

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