I know I haven’t written for a while. With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, in times of trouble I am not a rock, not a bridge over troubled waters. I tend more towards the philosophy of the turtle: I pull in my legs and head and make myself as small as I can (metaphorically speaking, of course), then I just plod through one day at a time. It’s how I survived cancer in 2000, it’s how I got through 2008, the year of the flood. It appears to be how I am coping with Covid-19, the Pandemic of 2019-20.
Still, since I have been doing so much research on my ancestors, I am aware of the historical aspect of these times. At some point in the future, as someone is reading the stories I have collected, they may want to hear about this event as well.
The numbers will be recorded in books. The dates will also be recorded. Even the events leading up to it and the various good and bad responses to the pleadings of the medical professionals will be analyzed. No doubt there will be countless investigations into why this viral infection went so horribly wrong.
I don’t need to record any of those things.
I do want to write about heart, the life lessons, the emotions, the things we have discovered about ourselves.
After future searchers have read the facts, the thing that will really tell the story is how we acted and how we survived. They need to know about the humor. They need to know about the dedication of the “little guys.” They need to know about a robust, supposedly well-adjusted country/world that was stopped dead (excuse the bad and unintended pun) by a tiny virus that relied on human interaction to survive…a hug, a handshake, a shared water bottle, a pickup game of ball, a grocery cart….all the ways that little virus could move from one to another of us.
Suddenly the much-maligned cell phone, the internet and social media sites became part of our survival packages. We longed for the people in our lives that we always meant to go visit when we had the time. We missed jobs and classrooms that we used to dread. And for some reason, toilet paper and bottled water became the currency we desired most. Gasoline fell to its lowest price in decades as our cars sat abandoned and dusty in the driveways and garages.
Strangely enough, we became just a little closer in our isolation. We learned how very important low-level, low paid workers were to our daily existence. Grocery clerks and shelf stockers and delivery drivers became our heroes. Nurses and aides and doctors and cleaners were applauded when they finally came out of the hospital for a breath of fresh air or pulled into their driveways at home for a rare day off.
People who worked since they were kids, now drove through long lines to have masked and gloved soldiers place boxes of food in their cars.
It has become a different world…scarier, more personal, and somehow kinder. I choke up every night when the news programs close their broadcasts with just a few photos and names of some of the people who have died. I don’t know them, but I am their family and I mourn them.
When this is over (and it will be over someday), if we can remember a little of the humility and the humanity we have learned in this we might just be a better world…for a while.