3/17/2020 —Three days into “sheltering in place” because of the Coronavirus and I’m ready to rebel. Not against the quarantine itself, but the nomenclature. I don’t like being labeled “elderly,” “at risk,” “vulnerable.” These are negatives that make it sound like it’s something I did to deserve imprisonment. I prefer being called an “endangered species.” This makes it sound like I’m special, something worth saving. It’s my environment that’s gone whacko, not myself. So treasure me, protect me, but don’t expect me to reproduce while in captivity.
Less than three weeks later, April 3, it’s come to this:
On my usual morning walk with the dog, I saw a man half a block away coming my way. My allergies threw a tantrum this morning, causing much coughing. I didn’t think anything about it as I blew my nose, cleared my throat and continued toward him. As he came closer, he pulled the collar of his jacket over his nose and half his face and circled around me.
In a nano-second I plummeted from being a protected, appreciated, maybe even loved citizen of the “endangered species,” to a member of the predator pack roaming the world seeking whom it may devour.
It’s not a nice feeling. I’d like to smack this Coronavirus in the face.
Back on the eighteenth of March, this was my dilemma:
This morning I received an email from my gym saying it’s closing because of the Coronavirus. I wasn’t going to go anyway, because I’m part of the “endangered species.” What I don’t understand is how warnings and announcements are barely off the lips of authorities and a stampede is under way. A friend reported that his gym is closed, so he went to two sporting goods stores to buy some weights. The shelves are already bare!
It stuns me how quickly people translated “gym closing” into “hoard weights.” Apparently, I’m a bit dense or downright dumb for not making these connections. Hence, I missed the mask marathon, the toilet paper run, the hand sanitizer sprint and the rice and pasta race.
However, like the tortoise and the hare, I’m counting on being the turtle who finishes the course.
And then I discover that the epidemic produces a whole basketful of emotions. On March 19, I struggle with all of them:
Unreal! I can’t believe this is happening!
Does anyone else have this reaction to the Coronavirus thing? I wake up in the morning after a blessed night of no media blasts, and look out the window. The world looks normal, but when I peer into the refrigerator for breakfast ideas, I know the world is not the same. I can’t make a quick run to the grocery store without consequences.
The world is not the same and I suspect it will never return to what it was last week. It’s unbelievable. I want to deny it all.
Then it hits me that life during the Coronavirus crisis is like going through the grieving process, something I’ve experienced since my husband died a year ago.
Denial. Anger. Sadness. Depression. Tiredness. Tears. Love. Acceptance. And back to the beginning again when I want to shake my fist into the universe and scream, “This is not fair! I didn’t ask for this!”
From my companionship with grief; however, I know it’s OK to feel these things, say these things, even yell at God about it all. He’s big enough to handle my outbursts. Like a parent, He knows that what I need more than answers is His presence. So I lean into Immanuel—God with us—and find peace.
Patricia Maxwell writes from Southern California.
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