“Mom, can I run out and see Sean? He’s stopping by real quick just to say hi. We won’t touch,” explains my youngest daughter and I say yes. It is not perfect social distancing, a bit of a cheat. But they are adults, they are in love, and they are saying their goodbyes for what will be a good long while. I stay inside and watch them as they talk to each other, the way that lovers do, at the curb of our front lawn. It is a Romeo-and-Juliet moment but for the facemask and the distance between them. And despite the beautiful sunshine and the ever-lengthening days that typically send my spirits soaring, I am just sad. We haven’t been at this quarantine-thing all that long and already I am sad. I think so many of us feel the exact same way. Our trials have barely begun here in the United States, but the feeling of loss in the air is palpable.
We are worried about our family members, ourselves, our jobs, our clients, customers and businesses, our retirement. In my family, the middle daughter has already lost her job. Her design company simply buckled; her co-worker tested positive for the virus and has pneumonia; her new husband is a first-responder in the city who goes into work no matter what, which worries us all. My other son-in-law, married to my oldest, was sent home from his jobsite late last week because a co-worker tested positive. They have four children. For now the job will cover his salary. But my daughter and I have both worried for two days about the littlest of the four (he’s just a year old) who came down with a fever and all sorts of congestion. Teething? Ear infection? Allergies? Or worse? Today he is doing better, a gift in the time of coronavirus.
I think we are going to have to become grateful for the small gifts.
It’s spring; the daffodils are blooming; the sun grows brighter, warmer. Pollution is way down, the ozone layer improving. These past few pretty days, my neighborhood has had a quiet, soothing rhythm-no sense of hurry. People are out walking and, yes, keeping their distance. Suddenly everyone has lots and lots of time on their hands. Time to give the dog a real walk; time to plan a meal and cook it; time to call people, reach out and honestly listen; time to paint, to read, to write, to knit, to go through family photos. Finally, there is time.
I’m not denying the reasons for worry. I feel them acutely. The news is frightening. It becomes hard not to question every sniffle and cough, every physical feeling. So I guess we do that. But we then need to pivot to hope and plan for better days, normal days when we know a cough is really just a cough; when two young people who have finally found each other are able to do what young lovers have always done; when families can finally visit each other again, pull the little ones close and revel in the love. For I know this much is true: in the end the only thing that matters is love.
PS: Anyone who is fighting this illness, waiting for a result or has lost a friend or loved one, I write the above in support and recognition of what you are now going through. I am keeping you in my prayers. I think anyone reading this feels the same. We all send our love and support.