Exactly no one woke up this morning and thought, “I wonder what Meg has to say about COVID-19?”
Trust me: I get it.
Still, it’s hard to imagine writing about anything else. Is anything else going on? I mean, really. These are strange times, friends.
As coronavirus dominates headlines, shutters schools and businesses and generally brings the nation to a standstill, I share in the worry of my neighbors and fellow humans. For my own sanity’s sake, I’ve tried to limit my exposure to updates — but just as with those surreal days after 9/11, it’s tough to look away from the news loop. Nearly impossible to think about anything else.
It’s like a natural disaster is unfolding, only it’s a warm and windless day — a beautiful spring day, with cherry blossoms set to light up the Tidal Basin to diminished crowds. I’ve felt like we were prepping for a blizzard, only there has been no Doppler radar to monitor . . . and no obvious way to know when the danger will be over. After a hurricane, at least, the sun can be counted on to guide us out of the gloom.
I want to comfort myself — to find some scrap of humor in my husband and I being home with our warring 3- and 4-year-old while it feels like the world unravels outside our door. But I’m too unsettled for that. The fight-or-flight feeling that wraps me in its tentacles on a normal day is in overdrive. I’m jumpy and tense. I wake up daily with that “something isn’t right” pit in my stomach. Like all of us, I just have to walk around with it.
Around the yard, that is. That’s about as far as the family is getting right now.
Thankfully, we have company — for the foreseeable future, even. I nearly cried when my mother- and father-in-law arrived on Sunday. They’d already planned to visit for the kids’ now-canceled birthday party. When COVID concerns picked up steam last week, they moved up their trip to make sure we were covered for the work week (as of the time of this writing, anyway, Spencer and I still need to report). The kids are safe with their grandparents.
“I feel like I can breathe now,” I told Spencer’s mom. “The grown-ups are here.”
At 34, I still fight that feeling in turbulent times to run, run, run back “home.” Back where my dad, ever confident, has a plan; back where my mom pulls up in a van loaded with nonperishables and a stack of crafts to keep us busy. Back where I am not in charge. Where I don’t need to worry about making the wrong decisions.
I’ve told this story before (probably many times before), but I also think of my grandparents and cozy afternoons at their home. When I was loaded up on drugs during childbirth with Oliver, literally scared out of my mind, I spent those long hours in a lucid dream “flying” through my grandparents’ house.
Now a mom myself, I’ve tried to keep the pandemic anxiety from seeping into our day-to-day lives — but, ever observant, there is no way Oliver and Hadley haven’t picked up on it. So far, at least, I haven’t had to explain our social distancing. We briefly explained that they’d be staying home from “school” this week and, with Spencer’s mom and dad here, they have company and novelty to provide distraction.
We don’t know how long this will last — and the not knowing is scary. We don’t know all the repercussions. We can’t see into the future. And so I come back to that oft-used phrase: one day at a time. One day at a time. One day at a time.
If you’re reading this and fearful, you’re not alone. If you’re reading this and scoffing, be cautious anyway. Please stay home as much as you can. Take this seriously. Be patient and kind to yourselves, and to others.
See you Friday, friends.