Love in the Time of Corona

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Recently a group of friends gathered outside (when it was lawful to do so), around an open fire pit, at the Four Seasons Resort in Texas, sipping a smooth Pinot Noir, discussing this new Coronavirus, it wasn’t a thing yet in the US, but we knew it was coming. One of my companions was feeling extremely vulnerable, but to be fair, most of us feel exposed when unexpected circumstances complicate our lives. Claudia seemed concerned, mostly due to the fact she is caring for ailing parents, and worries about their safety.

The guys like to play the macho card, “we’re not buying into this media driven panic.”

I was quiet, listening, still very unsure of where this virus was going to take us. I had no idea that within days I’d be down with the flu, my school closed, and most of my family required to work from my home.

Claudia says, “you seem pensive Cheryl, what are you thinking about?”

Me, “I’m thinking about my Dad (who passed away years ago but his legacy remains).”

“Why?”

I hesitated, hoping it wasn’t the wine inspiring my thoughts, but wanting to share.

“When I was a kid I watched my Dad when things got chaotic.”

“Was he good at emergencies?”

“Well, for one thing I never heard my Dad yell, not once. If I didn’t know what to do in a particular situation, I watched my Dad, he was calm, and it made me feel safe. When things went south, as they are wont to do, he would look around, and did the next right thing.”

“Like what?”

“I remember driving up to a ski resort in the Sierra’s in January, Nancy and I were just kids, as we rounded a sharp corner the car spun out of control. From the back seat our world went into this tight spin, no one wore seat belts in the 70’s, but more alarming is my Mom, who has taken hold of Dad’s right arm, practically yanking it out of the socket, screaming, ‘RICHARD, RICHARD, RICHARD, we’re skidding.’ [nothing like stating the obvious] As calm as possible my Dad tries to correct the spin, while holding my Mom in place, and with a strong clear voice he says, ‘we’re going to be okay.’ Now mind you the car is careening recklessly towards an unguarded ledge and all appears lost.”

“What the hell happened?”

“He eventually stopped the car and we continued on up to the resort. The point being it wasn’t just how he dealt with emergencies, or one of my Mom’s rants about someone walking across her freshly mopped floor, me panicking about an upcoming math test. He used the same tactics in every situation. He’d hand me the mop, find my Mom a seat on the patio with a cool ice tea, or he’d sit down and go over every equation until I understood. He stayed composed and did what he could do to ease the tension or fear.

Larry my husband says, “he was an unusual guy, taught me a lot about patience, and remaining calm even under the worst circumstances.”

One of Larry’s friends, “you’re a slow learner dude.”

General laughter fills the night air, because my husband is not known for his calm demeanor, although clearly he admires this attribute in others.

I add, “What I didn’t know was he was teaching me how not to panic.”

Everyone has been trying to put six feet between each other since the virus has traveled from sea to shinning sea, the social distancing currently recommended by the health department for avoiding contagions, and isolating the sick.  I’m recovering nicely from the untimely flu, minus 5 pounds, but my family started to treat me as if a leper, one who remains highly contagious for the rest of her God given life.

It’s rude.

I’ve been banned to my room, Kelley follows me round with antibacterial whips, grazing every surface I touch. Larry’s taken to opening windows in the near vicinity, and it’s not quite Spring, if you get my drift.

It’s not what Jesus would do.

If he were walking the earth today he’d have to outsource the healing like he did in his own time, turns out healing has always been in high demand, his tactics of standing with the marginalized would be frowned upon, along with rubbing spittle and mud in ones eyes.

I wonder if we are going to look at time for the rest of our lives as before Corona and after Corona?

NCAA, Broadway, marathons, churches, restaurants, coffee houses, concerts, plays, schools, cruises, conferences, corporations, flights, even the happiest place on earth is now closed. Think about that. Do they think we know how to create our own fun?

Here’s my take, there will be a baby boom nine months from now, and a run on grandparents?

Can I just say no one is more smug right now then me who insisted Larry install a bidet in the master bath five years ago. This is called foresight on steroids. Okay, enough said.

My girl from Back Bay Boston has been working remote at my kitchen table all week. I know, I know, it’s like a dream come true, only it’s my new reality. She came to participate in an interview for her upcoming wedding and due to the virus she’s staying an extra week.

The reproductive rate of this virus is extraordinary, I can’t think of anything that multiplies faster, aside from rabbits, and dirty dishes.

My son Dante has been staying with us the last few nights because it was easier to sleep at our house than a hotel miles from the next work site. We all ate dinner together and watched a movie as if a decade ago. The next night we sat in the master bedroom, sipping wine, chatting it up with each other. For this, I am overjoyed. No, it’s more then that. I’m euphoric and feel bad about it.

My husband’s company recently closed campus, and are requiring employees to work remote, so not only is he laying next to me all night, he’s working not twenty feet from the mobile office I’ve made out of my bed. I’ve been marginalized in my own home, as my husband grows a COVID-19 beard, and one by one our cherished institutions are closing. How shall we describe this?

Yes, the sky really is falling!

I have this little game I play when times are tough. I try to imagine what the bad thing is shielding me from or what unexpected good has resulted from the crisis?

Have you played?

It takes practice, but it’s not complicated, and please refrain from keeping score.

It’s an all out search for the good in the middle of a shitshow, scanning for positives in a stew of negatives, being an affirmist in a defeatist society.

So let’s play the Corona game.

My daughter Kelley says, “this is a win for all dogs because their people are home all day.”

Julie adds, “we couldn’t have done this a decade ago, the technology is allowing us to continue working, and connecting with each other.”

Dante says, “surprisingly our technology is able to keep up with the demand, imagine if the internet went down?”

Me, “we’d have to talk with each other!”

My husband mentions, “there’s some good buys out there in the stock market and we solved the traffic problem overnight, not to mention the reduction in pollution and crime.” He’s such an optimist. Yeah, not.

Here’s mine, I have a tendency to align myself to these enormous ruts I’ve created in the road of life. You know what I mean? I have my little routine all polished and shined so don’t mess with me! Seriously. Work, writing, wine with Larry, dinner, bed, repeat (Larry adds one more step – whatever), and I better be lakeside by the weekend. We’re an exciting bunch. But all of a sudden I’m unleashed so to speak, although I can’t leave the house, but we’re creating a new paradigm.

Instead of resistance I’m learning resilience. Not the same.

We should expect that the COVID-19 crisis will change our society in important ways but are they all bad?

We’re developing our resilience for sure. With all this extra time we can learn something new, something that remains even after the dust settles, and we find ourselves in a brave new world.

What skills will be needed? What educational opportunities do you have access to right now?

I’m trying new recipes, learning how to utilize zoom for the benefit of my students, and create lessons that offer engagement instead of checklists. What will this mean for on-line education? Specifically for students who aren’t a good fit for traditional instruction? This might be our one and only opportunity to change the trajectory of modern education in a way that benefits not only our students but modifies the way we actually learn. Total win.

Corona – 0

People – 5

There are lots of positives, much to be grateful for, and most likely things I haven’t considered, but here’s a few.

We know what it is and how to test for it. Remember the HIV virus? It took two years to identify because it wasn’t a pandemic and we had to fight for research and treatment.

The situation in China is improving, which means shelter in place works, it’s not a stealth attempt to drive parents insane.

Eighty percent of the cases are mild.

Children seem protected or have very mild symptoms.

The virus can be wiped clean. Go Kelley.

We’ve improved the air quality overnight! Go out and breath! It’s extraordinary.

Scientist around the world are working on this cooperatively. We’re closing in on a vaccine and better treatments. Think of all the unexpected things we’re learning about virus’s and their transmutable properties, moving medicine forward in record time.

We need to be generous, and by that I mean how do we serve each other, especially our most vulnerable populations. A local grocery store chain is opening from 8-9 am for seniors only so they can shop when the shelves are stocked and not risk being exposed to the general public.

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, scared, shutdown – we are all experiencing these same emotions, but together we’ll get through this, in fact we’ll be wiser if we choose. Thomas Merton says you do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.

Best of all is the extra family time spent imprisoned at home, although we’re saving a ton of money on gas, I’m remembering all the annoying habits of my original roommates, like failure to load the dishwasher, change the toilet paper (oh yeah that’s mute), leave wet clothes in the washing machine, the television blaring when I’m sleeping, and the lights on in every room. I’m also remembering how it felt to live together, as a family, sharing our spaces, our lives, our anomalies.

But most important I’m remembering how not to panic.

 

I’m Living in the the Gap, sending you a viral elbow bump, drop a comment on how you’re maintaining the calm, what’s the upside, or if you just need to rant please use this space. I look forward to some lively engagement.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

My friend Susan sent this to me…thought I’d pass on the love.

Anecdotes:

  • Famous Museums offer virtual tours! Link here.
  • “A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”– Duke Ellington
  • “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”– Mary Anne Radmacher
  • Blogging is graffiti with punctuation. Unknown

 

9 Comments

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  1. ‘These are the times, that try men’s (sic) souls: The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country: but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Thomas Paine

    When Gail and I read your blog, she turned to me and said, “awe, this really touches me.” We both instantly thought of my mom yelling “Richard” at my dad after a driving misadventure. Eerily similar to your family. Reading your blog has brought a ray of sunshine into our lives. During these times, we like to reflect on the big events in our parent’s lives, and our lives. As you asked, will there be a BCE and ACE (Before Corona Era and after Corona Era?) Will this be remembered like 9/11, the Kennedy assassination, or Pearl Harbor? When our grandparents had major crises in the past, they watched their son’s etc. go off to foreign lands, and wondered if they would survive the war. The Great Depression brought families together, but there was no “social distancing.” Amazing how quickly the vernacular adapts to the situation.
    On the lighter side, I loved the humor in this entry. Glad to hear you are a Bidet Master (the force is strong in you.) Good to see you have some prepper instincts (this may be from your mother’s side of the family.) And regarding Larry learning patience? Ha! I can totally relate to Kelley, it is clear she did not believe you were now non-contagious (surprised she didn’t banish you to Clear Lake while you were in such GI distress,) and also she doesn’t have much faith in your germ control technique (maybe it is a trust but verify situation?)
    As for looking at the bright side, how awesome is it that Rachel and Ellie are both home with us!?! And if you want to be really positive, this is the year for a Victory Garden. Teach those grandkids how to grow an awesome garden. If you have extra produce, share with people in need. This country may be a little slow to mobilize, but it is unstoppable once it gets going. It is finally great to see our government function as a team. Everyone will pitch in.
    And lastly, a little shout out to rural Missouri. Seeing the chaos in the Bay Area super stores made me appreciate what we have here. Today we drove to our meat source and said we needed to get some more beef because the kids were home. They thanked us for buying more (gave us 10% off for the volume purchase) and said don’t worry about running out. They have lots of more cows out in the field.
    As always, we miss you. And of course you and yours are always welcome here (might have to quarantine the lady with Montezuma’s Revenge for a few days 😉) and we do have TP.

    I guess we all gotta hunker down, and ride out the storm….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see your name appear in the comments Mike! I suppose I’m craving all forms of connection these days. The situation is so fluid, changing day by day, and sadly the news and statistics are rather bleak. And I might add all this togetherness is overrated! But I am learning to throw my energy into the possibility of forming resilient options to this viral imprisonment, as opposed to maintaining the status quo, which is my normal approach to life. We’ve been zooming “happy hour” with friends, sitting in the garage a good distance apart, enjoying time with Larry’s parents who walked over just to get out of the house. We’ve pull all our kids together for a morning chat on the portal (of course it’s evening for Tony so while he sips wine, we enjoy coffee, and toast). I also have to add I’ve never been so proud of my students, they are teaching me zoom skills during our calls, helping with on-line resources for our topics, adjusting forms to better fit the objective. They rock!

      “The Great Depression brought families together, but there was no “social distancing. Amazing how quickly the vernacular adapts to the situation,” says Mike. This is so true, our ability to adapt is always available, but some of us refuse to learn the new language! That can be disturbing to witness, like the kids flooding into Miami for Spring Break! Hello, pandemic!

      I love how your community is working together, “there are more cows in the field,” and helping each other to stay calm as opposed to ideas of scarcity and panic, which is hard to resist when you see empty shelves in the grocery stores! Breath, adjust the menu, carry on.

      Overall we’re managing very well, I’m enjoying all the time with the grandkids, my own kids, and Looney of course! He’s offered some unexpected fun, like picking up swirls (and nachos) at the local Mexican restaurant for an impromptu patio night with the kids! The ABC has loosened all the rules about cocktails to go, it’s like we live in New Orleans!

      Anyhoo, hope you’re finding some fun in the midst of this unexpected shift in our normal lives! Miss you guys! Be well.

      Like

  2. I read your whole post and love your are accentuating he positive. One line stood out, about how your dad taught you by example not to panic. Your mom, I would have reacted like her. I wonder now, is it because my mom was so anxious that I have anxiety problems now? And can not panicking really be taught? You were lucky with your dad. He sounds like a stable, involved father. My dad’s great too but he wasn’t around much (travelled forever work) and now I think maybe if he’d been home more, I’d be different. As usual, great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Cynthia for reading and joining me in the comments. I’m craving all the interaction I can get these days! It is interesting to consider how we developed certain aspects of our personalities? It’s the old environment vs nature question. I do think how we react to stress, chaos, conflict is learned. If you’re parents tended to react calmly to most of the unexpected aspects of life it is likely you would develop a simular response when confronted with conflict? I’ve been searching for ways of responding to our current situation with humor (which connects people) and the possibility of utilizing this time to learn something new? They say when you’re feeling depressed, if you try and learn something new it shifts your brain out of the dark space and into something with more light! I figured it was worth a try. Hope all is well with you! Stay safe, C

      Like

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