When I wrote my first “Coronavirus Diary” on March 30, I could not have guessed that I would be writing a weekly series that seems to have no end. Could any of us have predicted that we would be working from home, wearing masks to the store, and zooming with our family and friends for most of the Spring?
We’ve been quarantining at home for going on eight weeks now! You might think that the time has dragged on, but my husband and I keep looking at each other and saying, “Is it Friday again already?”
Our days look mostly the same — wake up, morning routine, work, cook, walk, eat, TV, sleep, repeat.
Sure, we have other engagements. We Zoom call our families. We grocery shop (which now includes an elaborate in-processing of purchased items that takes a chunk of each Saturday). We ‘gather’ with our small community group twice each week. We take care of our dog, clean the house, and try to remember to send cards and gifts to somehow mark birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and the fact that we still care about our people even though we can’t see them.
We worry. We agonize. We pray.
Then we go to bed and get up the next day to do it again.
We don’t set long-term goals. We don’t make plans. We don’t go anywhere. Yet the time seems to be flying.
Even still, a lot can happen in the space of a week. A polar vortex can blow through. A friend can be hospitalized. A daughter can reach a milestone. A company can move from an almost expert response to a global pandemic to joining the ranks of those who have made sweeping layoffs and massive restructuring. A video of a shooting death of a man in broad daylight can circulate so widely and stir up so much outrage that a father and son who’ve been sitting freely at home for most of two months are arrested to the sounds of virtual cheering.
Thousands can protest nation-wide shutdowns. Thousands can been newly diagnosed. Thousands can recover. Thousands can die.
And we’re feeling it — all of it.
We’re edgy — quick to say a sharp word, snatch something from another, or walk away mad.
We’re raw — falling to tears and sobbing about the deaths, the uncertainty, the financial strain, the endless monotony of day after day, or the full sink of dishes. We cry because we’re tired, because we’re sick of being home, or simply because we ran out of Cheerios.
We’re angry — demanding that governments open up, complaining about the ‘idiots’ who keep congregating without wearing masks, and insisting that the person next to us would just stop chewing so loudly.
We’re doing our best to celebrate miracles — births and recoveries and job changes and college acceptances — and to mark graduations and birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.
Sometimes we can’t be bothered — we just don’t have the strength, the wherewithal, the awareness to reach out, to noice, to connect with each other, to wash our hair, or to change out of pajamas.
Yet somehow we’re figuring it out — doing our best — finding our way.
We’re finding our way by seeing the devastation and reeling from it, because that’s what you do when you are devastated — you reel. Try to brace if you like, try to harden yourself against the blow, but like it or not, when the impact hits, you’re gonna find yourself tumbling around trying to find your feet again. If you’ve been ordered home, lost your job, gotten sick, lost a loved one, or simply born witness to the losses of others, you might find yourself reeling. (If you don’t feel like like you’ve been smacked around a little bit, you might be fully in denial that almost 80,000 Americans have died, that millions have lost their jobs and are without money, food, and any sense of stability, and that none of us really knows what the next weeks or months look like.)
We’re finding our way by talking it through. When we talk on the phone, meet together on video chat, or sit next to each other in the evenings, we’re sharing the bits of news from the day, we’re asking hard questions, we telling each other that it’s hard to get out of bed, that we haven’t changed out of yoga pants since March, that we cancelled our vacation plans. We talk through the loss of a loved one, the test results, our latest cooking adventure, and the project that we’ve been working on.
We’re finding our way by reaching out. We call our parents who are weathering this ‘storm’. We touch base with our siblings more than we used to. We check in with friends and call our kids, listening to words, to tones, and to things left unsaid.
We’re finding our way by eating, sleeping, exercising, and deciding that we are going to do the next thing, even if it’s not the best thing, every. single. day.
And in the midst of all this finding our way, doing our best, and carrying on, we get tired and overwhelmed; we start to lose hope. We cry out.
Will it ever end? How long, O Lord, will you forget us forever?
Forget you? How could I? See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.
You did? You did!
I did! And I’ve given you a future and a hope.
You have? You have!
I have. I will never leave you nor forsake you.
You won’t? You won’t!
Behold, I am making all things new.
You are? You are!
I am. From before the world began, I am.
That’s right. I remember.
We’re engraved on the palm of Your hand. You’ll never leave us nor forsake us. You are making all things new, from before the world began. You are.
Ok. We hear you. We do.
We’ll keep listening for your voice as we find our way.