Saturday, March 14, 2020

"There are weeks where decades happen."

Spring flowers, reaching for the sun

I have been checking in with my family members, sometimes several times a day. We are all scattered and while I know having everyone here with me is neither practical nor even a good idea, I am seized by magical thinking: if my family were together, everything would be okay.

I told my eldest son that it felt like forever since Monday and he quoted this back to me:
“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
― Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
Yes. Absolutely.

I have a public health background; my spouse is a physician at a Boston teaching hospital. We have been a week or so ahead of most of the general public in our degree of concern about COVID-19 and its looming impact.

On the one hand, it's nice not to feel like Cassandra anymore. On the other hand, my anxiety is now shared and amplified by everyone around me.

I had to remind myself that it was Saturday this morning. I have been at StarField Farm - our home in Central Massachusetts - since Thursday. My spouse is in Boston and spending nearly all his waking hours at his hospital, gearing up, preparing, waiting. It was a difficult choice, but he persuaded me to pack up the dogs and leave, knowing his chances of exposure to the virus is high.

We have weathered crises in the past including illness, injuries, deaths of loved ones, a terrible house fire, personal and family emergencies. In every case, we were able to be surrounded by and supported by a community.

Now that community is also alone and struggling with what the next day, week, month will bring.

We are all alone, together.

It has only been 2 full days since I came here to practice social distancing. What a terribly clinical phrase. Two days. I miss the feel of my spouse's arms around me. The warmth of him against my body when we sleep. The choreography of both of us cooking dinner together. Even the silence of the two of us reading in the living room. I am, by nature, an introvert and used to spending large amounts of time alone and this is difficult.

I had to make an activity list for myself today. In all-capital letters across the top, I wrote "SATURDAY". It included bringing up wood from the basement for the stove, doing some clay work, cooking soup, doing laundry, and writing.

While I write to do lists nearly every morning, this one felt different. It felt like a life line and a way to focus away from the endless churn of Twitter, FB, and the news.

I didn't get to everything on that list, but I did some handbuilding with clay, the laundry is in the drier, and the soup is simmering on the stove.

I have no special wisdom or insight to share about how to handle the uncertainty or keep one from being exposed to an invisible threat. I only know that my own coping strategy during stressful times is to write.  

My heart aches for all the medical people and first responders who are already exhausted from planning and preparing, for families with young children who will have to provide assurances and comfort in a chaotic time, for folks--far too many folks--who were already a paycheck away from crisis.

My dear ones, stay safe.

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  1. This mirrors a lot of what I am thinking and feeling right now. But I'm so sorry you are dealing with this without your husband. I completely understand why he would feel better knowing that you are safe, but still. My heart aches for you both. <3

    1. Thank you. I had a revelation last fall at a writing conference when we were talking about characters and their, well, character.

      I am like a border collie. I need to patrol the fences and keep my flock from wandering. When they aren't all in the pen, I get anxious.

      Right now, I'm a boarder collie without a job to do.