I have had so many thoughts going through my mind lately as I have been home, trying to stay busy as the world is mentally and physically spinning from the COVID 19 pandemic. I have had a few people contact me and tell me that they are so glad that we had Jeremy’s service when we did, because it was after that weekend that things started ramping up. I have to say though, that I am more grateful that sick Jeremy was spared this. I think about how I no longer would be allowed to take him in to his procedures or be with him through his treatments or even stay with him in the hospital. I know that would have killed me and honestly him too. I know how important it was for him to have me with him. I was his voice, quite literally. I knew how to help relieve some of the pain and discomfort. I was his advocate. He told me at one point he would get panicky if I wasn’t around because I knew what he needed and he knew I would take care of him when he couldn’t. After that, I limited how much I was away from him because I didn’t want that for him. If he was still here, COVID 19 would have taken that comfort from him. And that would have broken my heart.
About three weeks ago, I started keeping the kids at home, not wanting to expose them to anything. I continued to get things ready to be able to “shelter in place”. Making decisions and implementing them wasn’t hard. To be honest, I did a lot of that anyways. Not always, but as a generalization. It’s how Jeremy and I worked together. But what I did find hard was not having the extra hands to get things done. But I managed to do it and we settled into quarantining ourselves. I did have to leave a couple times, like a trip to the bank and I did run to my parents’ house to grab a tool the other day. I am glad I did though. I saw the azaleas, cherry blossoms, and dogwoods blooming throughout my drive. At one point, I got to drive through a cherry blossom “rainfall” due to the wind. It made me smile. If I hadn’t made that drive over, I may have missed some of the beauty of spring.
At first the quarantine wasn’t too hard. I mean, it just felt like a continuation of our previous six months. I haven’t been too worried about the virus. I have asked myself why. Honestly, I think it’s because I quite literally just walked through hell. I stared evil in the face. How is this different? We just need to keep moving forward and not letting it steal our joy. As time has gone on though, I have been finding it growing harder to deal with. I am an extrovert by nature. I feel energized being with people, for the most part. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want alone time or would rather not talk to people at times, but overall I love the interaction and connection of relating to people. Thankfully, I have had one of my sisters here and have been still able to have adult interaction, until things started ramping up and the COVID numbers increased. Both my sister and brother-in-law are considered essential workers, especially my sister as she works in a pharmacy. As more cases are popping up, I know the possibility of exposure is increasing to the point that my sister has to now wear protective gear at work. So we have had to distance ourselves. They don’t come into our house and we don’t go down to theirs. We don’t pet each other’s dogs. We have seen each other outside and try to keep our distance, but I have felt the effects of the distance. I am feeling more isolated. If I stay busy during the day, it is fine. I put my earbuds in and listen to music that keeps me moving and energized. But I find the evenings harder. There are some aspects of the physical labor that I am doing that is harder because Jeremy would do that for me, but I am not a stranger to getting out there and getting things done. It’s the processing part at the end of the day that I am finding more difficult to deal with. It is when I feel the most isolated.
Dealing with the isolation has made me think hard about the pandemic and how hard this is on everyone in their own isolation. One thing that I realized through Jeremy’s sickness is that I couldn’t have gone through all of it on my own. There is no way. It was the people who surrounded me that kept me going. I envisioned it as a circle. I had the immediate people who saw me day in and day out. But on the next layer were the people who knew a little more of what was going on… the good and the ugly. And after that the people, who I knew were surrounding us with love and support, trying to find ways to show us that, but being understanding of the space I needed to be able to cope with everything and keep my family moving forward. They would get their information through the Caring Bridge site or one of the people who knew what was going on and what needs we had. Though each layer looked different, I felt the support of each of those layers. And my take away was that things like that can’t be done alone. I believe that we were created for relationship and that belief was even more solidified during that time.
So here we all are, in a worldwide problem. I don’t even want to say illness because it reaches far beyond getting sick. The ripple effects of the pandemic and the decisions on how to handle it are touching every aspect of our lives. And then you add to that isolation. One of the driving forces that helps us survive no longer seems to be an option anymore, or at least on the surface level. And I see it hurting us. That is why I am brought to tears when I see people finding ways to defy that. Like when our local teachers and bus drivers drive down the road, honking, waving and yelling to the kids that they love and pour so much of themselves into. It is one step towards taking back what isolation wants to steal from us. It tells not just the kids, but the parents, you are not alone. Or when I see cars of people show up to a hospital to let the workers and the patients know they are not alone. That the walls that separate are just that. Walls. I know what it is like to be in those walls, looking out over that parking lot, and overwhelmed with the unknowns. Weary from what I had been walking through and scared of what I was about to walk through. I remember looking down on that same parking lot after the snow had fallen to see my three children, sister and brother-in-law making their way to the doors. I remember seeing my sister look up and happen to see me looking out the window. I remember them all looking up and getting so excited to see me and waving and almost dancing with the joy of seeing me through the window. I looked down in that parking and I saw my people and I didn’t feel alone. It didn’t change what I had been walking through and it didn’t change what I was about to walk through but it changed how I walked through it. And that is why it undid me and turned me into a sniveling mess when I saw the video of people gathering outside the hospital to support the people inside, telling them they are not alone. I know what it is like to look down to that same parking lot and feel supported in the unknowns.
I, like everyone else, have no idea what COVID 19 and its effects are going to cause us to walk through in the future. But I do know we need to find ways to keep showing up for each other to take back the ground the isolation wants to steal from us, though we do need to at least allow the isolation 6 feet…for now. We are going to experience the emotions, frustrations and apprehensions that will be present, but it is my belief that we need each other to get through it. How that all works with all that is going on, I don’t know, but it touches my heart when I see people finding ways of doing just that.