Here in the US, businesses are starting to open back up after weeks of pandemic lockdown. We’re about to enter a new phase in this journey together.
Today marks 60 days that my family and I have lived and worked and been schooled from home, the five of us. It’s been a cozy little cocoon these many weeks. The weather is finally starting to improve in Ohio with warmer temps, no snow, less rain. This particular way we’ve been living life is coming to an end.
We all know how easy it can be to lament the many things we’ve lost over these 60 days: people chief among them, followed by jobs and life savings, milestones like proms and graduations and weddings and spring sports, and then maybe even followed by civility among our fellow Americans.
Let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on what we’ve gained, what we vow to do differently. I don’t want to go back to the way things were.
I’ll go first. In no particular order and by no stretch all-inclusive, here’s what I have gained and want to keep in my day-to-day life:
Routine family dinner, and all this extra time with the kids
Working from home (aka, the three-minute commute) with a puppy in my lap now and then
Reconnecting with far-flung friends using any manner of video technology
Netflix (yes!) for on-demand comedy
Savings that arose from not buying gas, lunch, clothes, etc.
The ability to focus on and truly enjoy the moments that make up the here and now
The realization that some things are truly outside of our control
The gift of my tribe – my tight circle of family, friends, and coworkers who I love
Simplicity of routine and in possessions
The sound of birds singing
Extra time for more hiking
A mostly empty evening and weekend calendar to use as the mood strikes me
Immense gratitude for my health and for all front line care givers, essential workers, and creative types who found ways to inject joy into these crazy days.
How about you? I’d love to hear at least one thing you discovered or reclaimed since the pandemic and you resolve to continue, to do different than you did before the world changed.
My youngest turns 10 tomorrow. Double digits. Normally we would be having a pretty cool birthday party with his friends, maybe even hire a gaming truck to come to our neighborhood so the kids can compete to their hearts’ content.
Not this year.
Nope. We’re stuck in the house, doing the same old, same old, as we have for – what? – the last 60 days.
Oh Lord, it’s even been SNOWING here in Ohio. Mother Nature isn’t even cooperating with us.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for a kid to go through a pandemic and celebrate a birthday, although at this point I know quite a few who have. Shoot, I’m an adult, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.
But you know what? ANYBODY celebrating a birthday in a pandemic is something to celebrate.
All told, though, it won’t be that bad. Frankly, it will be pretty awesome by many standards. We ordered a cool gift online and it’s arrived. We’ll order take-out dinner from his favorite local Japanese hibachi place and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, you know, the kind with the chocolate fudge and crunchies on the inside. I’ll make a sign for the front yard. His Dad and I will blow up balloons overnight while he’s sleeping and cover his floor with them so he has to wade through it when he wakes up, and we’ll tack crepe paper streamers down his bedroom door, to usher in the big 1-0 in style. For extra flair, I’ll put a lip stick smiley on his bathroom mirror.
Maybe we’ll even deliver breakfast in bed, since it’s entirely possible to pull it off.
I wrote to some friends to see if they’d be interested in forming one of those car parades in front of our house so he can see his old school and soccer buddies. It’s been two months after all, and who knows when he’ll see them all again for real.
I even floated the idea of a single kid sleeping over if the parent consented but hubby nixed the idea because our other two kids will beg for exceptions we are not willing to grant, so isolated we will remain for now.
My baby is 10. He’s healthy, he’s happy. He’s AWESOME. He’s loved. He knows that.
Never in my wildest imagination did I expect this is how we’d celebrate his big birthday. But we are blessed beyond measure inside Louie Lodge, no matter how much the crazy swirls around us.
It’s Mother’s Day and this photo popped up in my Facebook memories. That picture reflects a rare moment of peace during those teen years when my mother and I were constantly at odds. Her face shows it. She could barely crack a smile. I was excited about leading the flag corps in the marching band on a beautiful sunny day and the homecoming dance later that night.
She had me at 45, so that makes her 60 in this photo. Part of our troubles was the drastic age difference – two generations separating us rather than one. Part of it was her depression that swept in like a tsunami when her best friend and sister, my Aunt Nancy, died five years earlier. She had nothing left to live for after that. Not me, not her other kids, not her husband nor her grandchildren.
At home? Her care for me was overpowered by her unrelenting fear for me; she always expected me to succumb to the worst, whatever sensational crap Phil Donahue shilled out earlier in the day. She expected me to fall victim to AIDS for example, even though I was a virgin, as if I was clueless and stupid.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I was obedient and kind, sweet and studious, a straight A student who attended church, didn’t drink or do drugs, didn’t carouse at all hours of the night, and cleaned house regularly. I was president of this, that, and the other in high school, active in every club I could participate in. Nothing was good enough, though.
It was so demoralizing how she couldn’t see me for who I was and celebrate that. She died just a few years after this picture was taken, after I left for college. We never had a chance to heal our relationship. She never got to see how I turned out, that the core of who I am now was present even then. She didn’t see me. She didn’t really want me. She certainly didn’t care enough to live for me. She was definitely ready to go when she did, dying suddenly of an aneurysm.
No. She didn’t get to see that I turned out ok, way way way more than ok.
And I have had people tell me over the years, “Oh, she loved you. And she sees you now.” Maybe that’s true. But I don’t feel it. Not at all.
This was my experience being on the receiving end of mothering. My aunts were relatively distant, and much older than me anyway, like mom. I never knew my grandmothers; they were born in the 1880s and died long before I was born. Mom was my role model, and she didn’t believe in me.
I often wonder what it would be like to be loved in an uplifting, nurturing way, how I might have turned out, who I might have been had it happened. Maybe I would be able to connect with people on a more intimate level than I do.
I’ll never know. Mother’s Day brings a certain kind of undeniable pain, pain I rarely talk about. I can’t pretend this didn’t happen, though.
I can’t pretend I’m not jealous either, over the incredible relationships so many of you enjoyed and still do. Don’t get me wrong: I am incredibly happy for my friends who have this experience. It’s just….the cognitive dissonance over the years, learning what a nurturing mother-daughter relationship is supposed to feel like versus what I experienced is a shock.
And how I ache for my friends who are starting to lose their beautiful mothers 30+ years after I did. I saw the love between you both all these many years. I grieve for you. That kind of love, even though it changes form, is a forever kind of love. That’s how it should be. And I worry that I can’t be much of an emotional support for you at these times because your grief is undoubtedly more acute, far different than mine.
I don’t talk about my grief. It comes up on Mother’s Day, and occasionally on her birthday and every now and then when I am reminded of the physical and emotional scars she left in her wake.
It’s a double-edged sword talking about my grief. My approach for the first 25 years after her death was silence. You know, my attempt along the lines of “Honor thy father and thy mother.” I try hard to find things to honor, and harder yet to find things to smile about, so mostly I don’t talk about her.
Yet I’ve learned that keeping your feelings bottled up is not healthy. It’s human to talk. It’s human to feel.
And well, I write. I write to express, I write to understand. And finally I write to share, because I’ve learned it helps other people feel not quite so alone and freakish.
So if this resonates with you, be comforted in knowing that no, not everyone gushes with overflowing love and warmth for the woman that raised them. Sometimes the only emotion that remains is grief for what could have been, what should have been. I can’t tell you how many times I cried over what was. I’ve had to learn to accept it.
Besides, she knew then, in that photo, that I was a writer, five years already. She read my diaries while I was at school, so I learned long ago there was no such thing as privacy. My privacy was violated constantly. My concept of trust was betrayed from the get-go. What difference does it make if I write about her now?
What’s that they say about writers? If you don’t want a writer to say bad things about you, you should have treated them better. LOL
If you know someone who had this experience, know that they are struggling today. Struggling to reconcile their experience with what feels like everyone else’s. Struggling with the loss of the person who is supposed to be your #1 cheerleader, your #1 confidant, your rock. Your mom. Struggling with the loss of what never was: that love, those words of wisdom, the laughs, the pride, the hugs, the inside jokes, the forgiveness, and the help that comes with seeing you graduate college, start your career, get married, buy a house, have a child, have another, and get promoted.
It’s not all bad though. Even though this is what I chose to write about today, it isn’t 100% of my focus. I channel nearly everything I’ve got into being the best mom I can possibly be to my three. Let nothing but love and support flow from here on out and celebrate the beautiful humans I get to mother, with the best father on the planet.
I really should have taken a before and after picture.
As a mother of three, I’ve had more than a few of those heart-sinking moments when you witness something expensive get ruined right before your eyes. Take, for example, light beige wall to wall bedroom carpet, your charming youngest son, and really awesome neon green slime he got as a gift from somebody we’re obviously no longer friends with.
Say some of that slime falls out of the jar onto the carpet in not one, but two places underneath some furniture and you don’t notice it until it’s good and dry, sunk deep into the fibers. Contoured slime, like the fibers in the rug. A work of art, really.
Because, of course, that’s what would happen when you can’t watch his every move 24 x 7. And whilst he be charming, he’s a sneaky one.
Your heart sinks. You call the carpet guys – you know, the ones that specialize in homicide cleanup – and they won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. You figure your only option is to replace the carpet.
And that brings joy, because we’re independently wealthy and all.
Say you let, oh I don’t know, one, two, maybe even three years go by. You feel defeated every time you enter that kid’s room. You tell yourself, it’s a mark of childhood, adds character to the room. Louie Lodge is LIVED IN, don’t ya know.
And then it finally hits you, after several weeks in a pandemic-induced home-bound stupor, to Google it. Surely some other mother has faced this battle and emerged victorious.
Holy smokes, peeps: hot water and vinegar in a 1:3 ratio does the trick. I didn’t even bother moving the furniture, I just used a wet washcloth and rubbed until it was gone. It didn’t even stain. Petrified, neon-green slime.
47 days. So far, it’s been 47 days. Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm says we’re in the 2nd inning. Let that sink in for a moment.
Maybe he’s right. Let’s see: we’re physically safe. You could argue we bunted and made it to first base, maybe even stole second.
But I’d rather not be playing baseball. I’d much rather be sitting in the park on a sunny afternoon drinking a beer, eating a dog, and cheering on our favorite team. Wouldn’t we all?
But oooooh no. We’re playing ball. And if it had to guess, we just arrived at the top of the 2nd. I hear the famous words of Tom Hank’s character Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own,
“There’s no crying in baseball.”
I want to cry but the tears aren’t flowing.
The monotony of it all. Oh, the monotony! Every day like the rest. I get up, clean up, grab some caffeine, and within 20 minutes tops I sit in that home office chair and pound away at the computer just like the day before. The days are a blur.
Lent? It came, it went. Easter arrived. I hardly knew it. I know some people really embrace Lent. They slow down, get reflective and spiritual. I’m not that person. I slowed down in other ways, to be sure. But this year? I missed the rituals and opportunity to commune with other people on the Lenten journey. Deep down, it became clear that it is something I actually crave. I’m embarrassed it took a pandemic for me to realize it.
School is “back in session”, online. You would hardly know it either. My kids check their assignments on Monday and complete most of what is required for the week in just a few hours. Granted we have a bit more visibility to what the younger one is required to do but it doesn’t feel like much of a work load. No way are they getting the same level of instruction as they would in a physical classroom, however in no way am I blaming the teachers or the school administration. Parents are a child’s greatest teacher, so it is my job to fill in whatever gap I believe is missing.
The teachers and administration have to develop and issue the assignments fairly. Nevertheless, I’m sure there are kids on an individualized education plan (IEP) who aren’t getting the support they need. I feel bad for those students and their parents, but this chaos was thrust on everyone. We can only hope that the education and guidance we give our kids in other ways makes up for what they may be missing out on these few months. I know it doesn’t but it helps to show some grace toward parents and kids who are struggling now.
A few days ago Ohio officially announced that children will not return to physical classrooms for the remainder of this academic year. We had a hunch that would be true the first day of social distancing, 47+ days ago when the governor broke the news about the shut-downs. The school news still hit like a gut punch when it became real. While my heart breaks for seniors who may miss the rituals of their final year of public schooling, what really got to me was the realization that the monotony of the last few weeks will remain virtually unchanged until August, quite possibly. The only difference is the weather will be slightly warmer.
I’m not kidding. Chances are excellent I’ll continue to work from home because I can do my job just fine from here. My percussion teacher husband can continue his lessons online. We will have to come up with some seriously creative ideas for the kids to keep them occupied this summer. It’s daunting to think about. My fear is boredom and plenty of food to eat without self-discipline and constant supervision can make for a dangerous combination.
I feel for my friends, family, and coworkers with little ones, trying to navigate work under these circumstances. I know how exhausted I was when things were normal and I left them for 9-10 hours a day. Being with them 24×7 every day, trying to parent them while working? I hope we all lean toward grace for people in that situation.
I’ve tried socializing online. Held a variety of “happy hour” sessions with friends, family, coworkers, using whatever tools are at our disposal: Facetime, Messenger, Zoom, Teams. People as far away as England and Moscow, Florida, Cincinnati, Lexington, Raleigh, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh. I really do need to chat with my friend in Japan next. I am pretty glad this way of connecting exists even if it means sitting for a spell yet some more while we chat.
Although I am definitely not bored, I am helping co-produce a recurring Zoom webcast for a doctor friend who is sponsoring women’s health conversations. It’s been fun to put my webcast producer and interviewer hat back on.
I’m grateful for guided meditation, books, walks outside, my sweet little doggie, take-out, video-conferencing, social media, Amazon Music, and Netflix guiding me through this time, and for all the curiosity and twists of fate that led me to experience a pandemic with these stress outlets at my fingertips. I may or may not have become an Outlander fanatic over the last two weeks or so.
I remember when this whole thing started, I challenged people to do something meaningful with the time. Now I realize how ridiculous that was. Not one soul needs pressure, to feel bad about what they are or are not doing. Everyone has their own circumstances with an inherent set of challenges built in. We do what we can do, nothing more. No guilt, just grace.
The only goal? Survive. Just make it through to the other side of this, however long it takes.
By the grace of God, the five of us are still hanging strong here at Louie Lodge, today being Day 27. Here’s what I know:
The organization genes run strong in my 12 year old daughter. She has taken it upon herself to start cleaning out drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, God bless her. You know those utensil drawers you can’t quite close because it’s overflowing with stuff? Marie Kondo would be proud.
I’m so grateful we all have a small, adorable Maltipoo to keep us company in this craziness. One of our favorite nicknames for her is Pupperton, which sometimes morphs into Snuggleton, and recently after a bath: Flufferton. Just in case someone in the house isn’t feeling all that snuggly, we have our pup to turn to. Seriously, thank God for her.
There’s no getting around it: March was a sobering month but nothing like the prospect of flipping the calendar to April with the frightening thought that some of us won’t live to see the end of the month. April 15 in the US is predicted to be the peak and as we entered the month, April 19 was supposed to be Ohio’s peak.
However, the Ohio models show that our social distancing efforts are working. We might be a week or two out from the peak which has plummeted to 1,600 new cases a day from recent estimates of 9,800 per day.
That’s incredibly good news. We are flattening the curve. To quote Dr. Amy Acton:
School resumed remotely, in some fashion this week. The kids received their assignments from each teacher as of 9 am Monday in an online portal our school district uses, and they have a week to complete them. Teachers are holding “office hours” to answer questions and some have posted videos to explain concepts or lecture. It’s not quite the same thing as the real thing of course but we’ll see how it goes. I doubt they will return to physical classrooms this academic year. Some kids in our school district do not have access to computers but they can get access to district-provided Chromebooks which is wonderful.
Dance classes have resumed, fully online too. Ryun continues to pick up a few more private students for online classes and my work continues online en force.
I really haven’t left the house other than the occasional walk with our dog. What I have done is taken the time I have otherwise spent writing using it instead to connect using Facebook Messenger video calling with a friend in Moscow I haven’t spoken to in over 25 years, and I’ll be doing the same with another friend in London this upcoming weekend. And I probably ought to do the same with another 30-year friend in Japan since they just went into a state of emergency there. It’s amazing that technologies exist to allow us to do these sorts of things.
And as if things weren’t interesting enough, we awoke at midnight to the emergency signal on our cell phones advising us to take immediate shelter in the basement, which we did for 30 minutes while an F1 tornado promptly touched down in our town. We were spared but a few houses a mile from our house did not fare so well.
A few things brought a huge smile to my face this week, as it did for a lot of people. The first Randy Rainbow’s tribute to Andrew Cuomo. If you haven’t seen his parodies, you are missing out on some seriously clever entertainment. The part where he mentions Chris Cuomo made me belly laugh for a full five minutes. Did I ever need that.
And for the record: seriously, Chris has got to pull through.
A local cartoonist whose name I wish I knew so I could give credit created this parody of Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton using the theme song from Laverne and Shirley as the basis.
I strongly recommend John Krasinski’s Some Good News, already on Episode 2, which brought tears of joy to my eyes in that it allowed me to remember when I saw Hamilton on Broadway.
And finally for the pure feel-good vibe of it, is this family lip-synching to Hold My Hand. Watch Dad. I mean, daughter is pretty darn good but the tree that apple fell from is impressive!
Seek out the joy, peeps. Seek out and share the joy in these crazy times.
If you came looking for words of wisdom, I’m fresh out of those today. All I can tell you is somehow we are 16 days into social distancing here at home. Everyone is still healthy and in good spirits, the five of us. I count it as a miracle, a blessing of the craziest kind. Then again, Ohio is only just getting started.
We’ve been holding family dinner every night this second week at home and it has improved considerably from that first night, the one where my oldest was horrified to learn about my online honesty over our collective dinner behavior.
It’s a toss up: I really don’t want to share my children’s stories as those are theirs to tell, but I am a writer, and authenticity is my deal. So believe me, it’s hard to know where to draw that fine line sometimes. My story often includes them. And as I’ve said many times, poorly paraphrasing Glennon Doyle, if I share my foibles and my family’s foibles, maybe people will feel less like a freak for things not being perfect in their own lives. Consider it my service to you. Because really, whose life is perfect?
I digress… Back to dinner.
Each of us endures some gentle ribbing and there is ready laughter among the group. Nice. This is how it should be. I’m glad we got there.
We play “Categories” where you pick a category and then take turns naming something in the category without repeat or else you’re out. First we did presidents, and then our oldest wanted “famous battles” since he’s a war buff. We Louies went a few rounds…I’m proud of us, as obscure of a topic that normally is for our age ranges and interests. Even our youngest and our daughter could go a few rounds.
The kids clean up the dishes, and they even volunteered a thanks to their dad for cooking the meal. Our daughter baked cookies during the week and her older brother actually thanked her, without prompting from us. Do my ears trick me or have the fights subsided?
The boys play basketball with their dad and chess with each other. Our daughter does online ballet and Facetimes with her friends. My husband has a growing list of students willing to take online percussion classes and is teaching them, but he’s finding that each day feels like all the rest and the students don’t remember that they have a lesson.
I joked that we should start each day doing something like the Walmart cheer, except we’d spell out days of the week so we could tell the difference.
Give me an “S”! Give me an “A”! Give me a “T”!…..What’s that spell?
Then again, Saturday feels like Wednesday, feels like Monday, feels like Friday… blah blah blah.
I miss the old routine, as winded and hectic and insane it normally makes me feel until I emotionally overeat and blow all the weight loss progress I otherwise try to make. I cannot catch my breath any given day or week when we are all engaged in our normal routine.
They said I would miss it, miss that crazy schedule. Gretchen Rubin said it best:
“The days are long but the years are short.”
What I didn’t expect – at all – was a respite from that craziness, years before it was to happen.
I mean, now it’s just a new type of craziness.
Now I just wake up, sit in that chair in my home office for several hours of the day, participate in web conference call after another, thinking about how I am as disappointed in the appearance of my neck as Nora Ephron was about hers, watch the number of infected people in the world, the US, Ohio, go UP UP UP…
The US is now #1 in the world. I wonder if that’s what Trump meant when he says we’re “winning”.
That’s me being sarcastic. He’s a complete and utter disgrace. Thank God there are adults in charge elsewhere in America.
I spent the week personally connecting with people via web cam as much as possible. My brother-in-law, a cousin who was hospitalized recently for post-surgery complications, two friends from high school I haven’t seen in years and years in a first-ever virtual happy hour (highly recommended), another couple of friends who live alone, and another long-time friend who got increasingly, noticeably wistful as we talked.
Our conversation struck me the most. We talked about our loved ones and spouses who fit the early-defined category of “most vulnerable”, and strategies to protect them. What would happen if one or both of the parents in a family were knocked out for a period of time or permanently. How most certainly we would know someone who would die – very likely many – including older family members who are and are not heeding the orders for social distancing and the surprise younger people who otherwise look like a picture of health.
I heard fear in his voice, anger that some employers were putting people at unnecessary risk in an attempt to stay afloat. I sensed it in my own too. It’s almost like you can feel the Grim Reaper moving in slow motion throughout our communities. Who is he going to take next?
I mean shoot, I have a firefighter cousin who works every day with healthcare providers, other caregivers, EMTs, etc. and he admitted that several of them are “getting their affairs in order”.
Mother of God. That sent chills down my bones.
To all of them, these many essential workers, I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.
It’s a war. We need more masks, more personal protective equipment (PPE), more beds, and more ventilators. We need healthy caregivers of every kind. I don’t see us reporting these numbers anywhere, not percentages or capacity or shortage or anything. Not in Ohio yet. Maybe they are scrambling to put it together. Maybe the numbers are abysmal and they’d rather report it when there is hope of the numbers being reassuring. Who knows? But data is key.
I hear talk of ramping up production of necessary items, but I don’t see the president ordering it to happen. Instead I hear a president in disbelief over the numbers of equipment being requested in New York in anticipation of a surge yet to come, and see him appearing to withhold the necessary aid. Are you freaking kidding me?
Why does it feel like the commander in chief is aiding and abetting the enemy?
Oh, because he is. Wittingly or unwittingly. It doesn’t matter. He is.
It will sicken me endlessly if when millions of Americans become ill and die. This did not need to happen. A leader doesn’t dwell on the “mess” he claims he inherited. A leader would go about fixing it if he thought it was a real problem.
Aaaaargh…I said I wouldn’t go there. I wouldn’t talk about 45. But how can you not at a time like this?
I did encounter a funny post, from someone who said she learned a lot about her spouse working two weeks from home during this age of social distancing. He microwaves food items for exactly 44 seconds.
When she asked her husband why 44 and not 45, his response was, “For Obama.”
The wit in things like that give me joy.
And with that, I bid you adieu while I gently coach my daughter why we will not adopt a baby otter any time soon, no matter how cute they are.
Took a little break from writing over the weekend. I needed it. Working from home for a full week now has taught me that it’s really easy to blur the lines between work and home. At the end of the work day, I may log off of my work email, but I remain at the same desk, same chair, same position, and same PC I’ve already used for nine hours to launch WordPress and crank out a few thoughts. It’s a little monotonous.
Just telling the truth. But believe me, I’m not complaining. No sir.
It’s true I don’t get enough movement throughout the day. When I’m in the office, I get a cup of tea or two and take a few “bio-breaks” and it gives me a chance to walk around a bit, stretch the legs, recharge the brain for a few seconds, and exchange a few friendly hellos or more with my coworkers. It’s not quite the same walking a few feet to the kitchen here at home. Even taking the dog out for a quick jaunt is not enough.
It’s also a bit lonely. I find I don’t mind the kids’ interruptions nearly as much. Either they’ve figured out that I’m working and they’re leaving me alone or they keep it brief when they do stop in the home office.
Then again, I’ve got two of them going on Khan Academy to keep their math skills fresh and a third has ACT tutoring booked starting next week.
The youngest, age 9, has been making me scrambled eggs each morning. Today I caught him Facetiming his friend and walking him through the process of how to select the right pan, how to scramble the yolks, and how to cook them to just the right consistency. It was so cute to hear the conversation in the kitchen from my home office:
“You see, if you’re out at a breakfast café and you order scrambled eggs, they should be done in about five minutes. Now just look at these eggs, they look amazing. So how’s it going for you?”
This week, I found I am more apt to use video conference to chat with my coworkers. They joke about not wanting to be seen because their hair is askew or they’re going without makeup. I don’t care about that so much. It’s nice to connect.
Tomorrow and the next day will be a bit unusual in that I have two virtual happy hours, one with some friends from high school, and the other with my coworkers. At the end of the day, we’ll grab a beverage of our choice and video chat. I’m looking forward to it.
Praise God, we are all still healthy at Louie Lodge. I am counting the days. Two more and we just might be in the clear, but then again, a couple of us have ventured out – rarely – to grocery shop, visit the doctor for a wellness check before it was cancelled, fill up the gas tank, etc. We will never really know because one of us will always head outside, among other people, for food.
Even after all the states in the union give the “all clear” to return to “normal activities” (as if anything will feel normal again), we will all be washing our hands and sanitizing like crazy until they come up with a vaccine, assuming they can and it doesn’t splinter and morph into several strains. It will be a long time before we truly return to “normal”.
This virus – this enemy – is inching closer to home. I had reason to call a coworker in New Orleans today and started the conversation by asking if he and his family were ok. He confirmed that he and his immediate family were fine, but his mother already lost two cousins to the virus.
Louisiana isn’t on “lock-down” like we are in Ohio. He wishes they were. Maybe his relatives would be alive today. This coworker was the first person I met to be personally impacted by the virus. It was a sad milestone, and just the first of many. I told him I’d include him and his family in my prayers but really I’m praying for everyone in the world dealing with this.
Now excuse me while I go make a few more video calls to tell people I love them.
Feeling a little more somber today. Heard from another friend of mine, a doctor. She read yesterday’s blog post but stopped when she got to the part about the joys of working from home. She admitted it was because she felt a little jealous.
This news gave me pause. I felt sheepish, ashamed, because let’s face it: she doesn’t have that luxury. No one in the medical industry has that luxury today or in the foreseeable future. This particular friend of mine has gone through two separate instances of chemo from ovarian cancer, and yet here she is on the front lines of the pandemic, selflessly serving others.
She shared how she sees many older patients in her practice, some of whom look forward to their doctor appointment because it’s the only social interaction they get all day, or even most days.
If you’re struggling with these new restrictions, think of the elderly people in your life. Think of the doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, other hospital, hospice, and elder care workers. Think of the daycare workers who are working with kids while juggling the risks and restrictions placed on them, every day let alone today. There are all kinds of people to think about, to thank.
We need to support one another, however we can.
In another one of those incredible, perspective-inducing memes:
Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being asked to sit on your couch. You can do this.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine asked people to hang the American flag as a sign of solidarity, presumably because many of us might not have an Ohio flag, cool as it is with its pennant shape. The previous owners of our home had a flag pole in the yard but it was broken and became rusty so we pitched it several years ago. I will have to make an effort to hang our US flag somewhere on our house this weekend.
In today’s press conference Lt. Governor John Husted reminded us that tough times reveal our character. He spoke of a grocery store fight that broke out between two customers over toilet paper. Toilet paper. As much as I’ve joked about it, it’s not worth fighting with a fellow citizen.
Contrast that story with the one about a state employee, a technical guy who worked tirelessly to launch the state’s coronavirus unemployment benefits web page even while a close family member was dying. He chose a selfless act of service for his fellow citizens in a time of crisis over personal tragedy.
I sit in my house today wondering if my throat feels funny, like my glands are starting to swell. Maybe my imagination is running wild. It worries me. I realize I’ve been in a happy little bubble, but I really need to brace myself in case it bursts in the coming days.
This last week, my coworkers have all reliably shown up for work on conference calls like I confidently assumed they would, but it hit me: we will start hearing stories about people who are falling ill. People we know. The rumor mill is running with the name of an infected high school student in our community of roughly 27,000 people. Will it get more real when we hear that news first-hand from someone?
Is it more real now that the first Ohioan has passed from this virus? The numbers in Ohio and the US are really starting to jump. I’m not surprised at the numbers as we’ve been warned they would, and warned that we are just beginning this upward slope.
What if yesterday was Week One of Eight? What if it is Week One of much longer?
We are hearing reports that China and South Korea are slowly beginning to return to normal, but their societies are quite different than ours. I’m not an economist but I know America increasingly runs a small business and gig economy. How resilient are those to a pandemic? A few of my learned business friends are quite concerned about the long-term economic devastation about to hit America if this drags on longer-term.
One of those people is my best friend from college, Greg. I dreamt about him the night before, so I took it as a sign to Facetime him last night. We caught up for the first time after several months and I didn’t care that my face was sans make-up. He is hunkered down in his Manhattan apartment with his new fiancé and their two cats.
They pretty much can’t leave, and they haven’t for two weeks now. It’s impossible to step outside in New York and be six feet apart from people. He shared how the EMTs came the day before to take away his neighbor who couldn’t breathe.
He’s thinking through the logistics of packing up their lives and cats and traveling to Ohio to live with his elderly mom in the country for a few months until New Yorkers get the all clear. He figures he’ll be there to help his mom should she have a medical emergency, fix things around her house, and step out for fresh air by walking in the woods. He has the financial luxury to take a couple of months off from his work.
We talked daily in college, mostly to get through honors accounting homework and deal with our tough, formidable professor together, but just as often our talks turned to life and the future. Greg always called me “dear” and could finish my sentences for me, but despite all that, we always agreed to politely disagree about money.
Greg thinks we’re headed to a great depression of monumental proportions. I know exactly what kind of dominos need to fall for that to happen, and part of me knows he’s right about that, but for now I’m still hanging onto hope. If China and South Korea can emerge from this, maybe we can too. There will be casualties of the real and metaphoric kind, but I won’t mourn that yet. That time will come but not now.
Speaking of being hunkered down, I see many references to people reflecting on the dignity of Anne Frank, hiding in a 450 square foot space with her four other family members for two entire years, trying to avoid being heard and captured.
Perspective. We can do hard things.
Ryun and I need to do a better job of explaining that to our kids. Believe it or not, we finally sat down for family dinner last night and it wasn’t quite the Norman Rockwell moment we would have liked. Our kids had nearly a full week of free-for-all without curfews or much in the way of chores so the mere thought of gathering at the same time daily for – egads – a meal together was a crimp on their freedom.
I wanted to use the backside of my hand on each of them. I didn’t. I whipped out the old, “in my day we didn’t have the luxuries you did…” diatribe but it rang hollow. Eye rolls in every direction.
It was time to appeal to a higher good within them.
In between bites of spaghetti, they learned that for the rest of their lives, they will be asked, “What did you do during the pandemic?” and we explained we wanted them to be proud of their answer. Ryun and I suggested enrichment activities that – get this – each of them enjoys.
I may as well have told them the internet was dead. Or asked them to amputate an arm and return their electronic devices to owner. Not a proud parent moment. We have some work to do at Louie Lodge.
In closing, I leave you with this today, author unknown but full of grace.