It probably won’t be long before someone we know contracts this damned coronavirus, I said to my wife just a week or so ago.
Sure enough, three days later I got word that a cousin of mine’s husband died of COVID-19. Sick for a week. Then gone.
The news brought the seriousness of this crisis into clearer focus, and shocked and saddened our entire family.
Life–and the notion of death–is coming at us fast these days. And it all seems so surreal.
Hospitals are being overrun with coronavirus patients. The death rates continue to climb at an accelerated pace. The shortage of medical supplies—from ventilators to surgical gowns and masks—only exacerbates an already untenable situation, placing in grave danger the lives of those intrepid and heroic souls trying to save others.
It doesn’t matter who you are—rich, poor, well-known, not-so-well known, city bound or rurally ensconced. We’re all at risk.
And the changes this virus has wrought in people’s lives are palpable.
In my state, all nonessential businesses, as well as schools, are closed. Which means more people are at home, either working, home-schooling their kids or deep-cleaning their kitchen cabinets.
With fewer cars on the road, the neighborhood has an eerie quiet about it.
People still walk their dogs, but give plenty of leeway when passing each other. The dogs not so much.
And relationships are being tested.
If it were up to my wife, we’d be sheltering in a bunker with 12-ft thick concrete walls and be taking Clorox showers every 2 hours.
But at the beginning of our self-isolation, when we realized just how easy it would be to chafe, we vowed to not nitpick each other’s personal flaws and idiosyncrasies, but rather focus on being as civil to one another as possible. So far it seems to be working. But we’re only in the second of who knows how many weeks or months of these close quarters.
Fact is life’s hustle and bustle is experiencing a forced hiatus, but our instincts are still active.
Have loads of free time on your hands and want to invite friends over for dinner and a rousing game of Scrabble? No can do.
Want to break up the monotony and go for a long car ride, and stop for a coffee or lunch somewhere? Not possible.
Want to make summer vacation plans? Ha.
The one thing my wife and I can do, however, is feel grateful for the position we’re in. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food in our pantry.
So far, we and our grown children and their significant others are healthy, knock on wood, and we hope to stay that way.
We share a bit of our largesse by making donations to our favorite charities, including the local food bank, phoning elderly neighbors and friends to ensure they’re OK, and we try to be kind to all those we meet on our daily walks (at a distance of 6 feet or farther, of course), speak to on the phone or communicate with over the internet.
But what we’re all wondering is: When and how is this all going to end?
I’m no doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. But I doubt any of us will feel fully confident to freely re-enter the public sphere until universal testing has been implemented, followed by an effective vaccine. And that could take months–or longer.
My wife and I better renew our vow, and enjoy our time together.