Yesterday my good friend in New York told me about all the people she knows who have passed away in the past week alone. She said that it’s surreal and unsettling, but she’s trying to keep a sense of normalcy in her home, especially for her children.

She told me about visiting her sister-in-law, who not only had been sick but had just lost a close family member and so now was inShe’s trying to keep a sense of normalcy in her home mourning. She hadn’t even processed the emotional loss, she said, because she was feeling so bad physically. As I pictured this young woman in my head, I thought of my own difficulty breathing in the past few days—the discomfort in my chest, the low-grade fever, the feeling of fatigue I realize are all psychosomatic. I thought of my parents who live several hours away and have quarantined themselves.

At the end of a long day, I took a bath and tried to relax. I have during my lifetime (I’m in my 40s) gone through intense emotional ups and downs. I can’t say for sure if mine are any worse than others may experience, but they feel worse to me. I do take a low dose of medication, have talked to therapists and pray often. I take walks daily. And I try to put my passion into my family and my creative work.

But over the weekend, a deep sadness and irritability fell over me. I was vicious with my husband and myself, and looking back now, it was like something had taken over my mind—had moved in and decided to sabotage my plans for spiritual awakening and the desire to inspire others. I stopped writing, stopped praying, stopped loving. It hurt deeply to feel so lonely, so far from myself, from others and from G‑d.

This week, I read an article that my therapist cousin shared that noted how much harder this time is on those who have struggled with mental health. This new situation has made me think more of my mortality and to appreciate life, but reading the stories of health-care professionals and hearing about all the death and suffering is taking a toll on even the strongest among us.

So as I lay in my warm bath—thinking of death and focusing on my breathing that I no longer take for granted—I suddenly felt sublimely peaceful. I felt filled with light and love.

And I thought of a story I read recently of a young Jewish man who was being wheeled to the gas chambers along with other seemingly lifeless bodies. At the last moment, he managed to murmur in Yiddish just three words: “I am alive.” Again, he said it louder: “I AM ALIVE.” The person in charge of the wagon set him aside. The young man survived the Holocaust and went on to have children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I, too, am alive. And as long as I’m still here—whether it’s another day, a decade or more—there’s still work to be done. It isn’t easy. And it sometimes hurts.

In Europe, the Nazis and their collaborators sealed the synagogues to punish, dehumanize and ultimately exterminate the Jews. Here in America, our government has asked us to close our shuls to SAVE us from harm. America tries to protect its Jewish citizens; the Nazis singled us out for destruction.

Yes, this pandemic is terrible and dangerous, and in tooWe will be more sincere in our commitment to prayer and Torah many cases lethal. But we will get through this. With G‑d’s help, this too shall pass, and we will be more sincere in our commitment to prayer and Torah.

There are people dying alone in hospitals, and my friend and I said how utterly sad this is. One man wept as he said the Shema prayer to his dying mother through the speakerphone of an overworked, exhausted doctor.

As he listened to the man saying goodbye to his mother, “Time slowed down, and I felt restored to myself,” the doctor shared through a social-media post. “It woke up some emotion in me that I had long forgotten about.”

These words really struck me; I’ve read them over and over again. He was restored to himself? As I put my hand to my chest, and felt the rise and fall, and my heart continue to beat, I think of the life-force keeping me here, even if I don’t acknowledge it.

We are never alone. As long as we are still here and can feel this heartbeat, then G‑d, Love, Life ... whatever you choose to call It remains within us.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate each precious breath, in and out, that’s being given to us.

I am alive. And so are you.

May G‑d heal all our people, speedily and in our days.