I know we’re all fed up. We’re frustrated. We’ve got cabin fever. All this self-isolation, self-distancing, and quarantining is getting old. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing everything we thought we knew about living, and it’s forcing many of us to accept the reality of death.
It’s more than that, though. We’re scared, too. At least I am. It has taken me a little while to admit that. I have had my moments when the realness of all this hits home. We’re all now just one infection away from the possibility of death.
Somewhere out there, on the other side of the door, the virus is waiting. It’s a methodical killer, going about its business in a manner bereft of emotion. None of us know when it will cross the threshold of our own door or the door of someone we love.
So, yeah. I’m scared. And so are you, even if you can’t admit it right now.
Today has been another day in isolation, passing by like so many others, with one difference. This afternoon there was a knock at the door. Amy and I were a little perturbed at first, to be honest. We didn’t know who it was. There’s a sign on our doors these days. No visitors. When Amy opened the door it was our Uncle John and Aunt Lisa.
They were standing back at a reasonable distance. John passed Amy a yellow Easter basket filled with all sorts of candy and a card. He said, “We just wanted to let you know we are thinking of you. We love you.”
Now, wait. Before you post a nasty comment or chide us, everyone here is following the rules. We stay away from each other. Our almost daily visits to John and Lisa’s home right around the corner have stopped. We disinfect. Everyone is okay. So far. We want to keep it that way.
After our family left Amy and I both had a bit of a cry. We were all reminded this week by Steve Gleason, the New Orleans Saints legend who suffers from ALS, that a good cry can be awesome. I didn’t realize how bad I needed to let things go until those tears came. I suspect it is the same for many of us.
Because the virus and the potential of its deathly knock at the door aren’t what’s really keeping us down. The loss of a job and uncertainty over how we’re going to pay the bills, nope. It’s not that either.
It’s losing the connection we have with those we love. You see, the coronavirus isn’t just a remorseless killer. It feels like it also takes a twisted pleasure in separating us from the threads so many of us cling to when things are going good. Those threads are the ties that bind. They are the fabric that keeps our whole world in place.
It’s losing the family game nights. It’s losing the cookouts and other meals shared together. It’s losing the ability to see your Pop and let him know you love him.
When I met Amy I inherited a whole family. Pop became the only grandfather I’ve ever had. I’ve trembled on the occasion of our first meeting when I wanted to appear worthy of his granddaughter. I’ve laughed with him when he’s told stories of evading mean dogs while working. I’ve cried with him when he reminisces about Peggy, the wife he loved so and lost a few years ago. I’ve held his hand while we waited for an ambulance during his health scare on the eve of my marriage to Amy, and breathed a prayer of gratitude when he showed up the next day, fresh from the hospital, to conduct our wedding ceremony.
I know I am not the only one suffering. Many of us are heartbroken right now because we are moving through a dark time, and those who we count on to throw a spark of light are beyond our reach. I haven’t felt this way since I was six or seven or years old, running into my grandmother’s bedroom because something made a noise in the night.
I’m not trying to minimize losing someone close to you. My heart breaks for those who have. I’m just saying that losing contact with those we love is pretty hard, too. Knowing they are there, and we can’t hug them, kiss them, or help them know that it’s going to be okay.