This Historic Moment

WDRN Historic moment.jpg (Podcast / blog entry as inspiration)

It’s mid-March – my sister and niece are visiting here in Virginia and we are not wearing masks to visit or to go anywhere, we are doing some outdoor activities because many places are closing. My niece gets word that since she left her state, she’ll have to quarantine before returning to her job once home in Connecticut. More and more is in the news about the coronavirus. Lots of news about the horrors particularly in Italy, and we’re being told by some in the media that they are two weeks ahead of us. Leadership in American government is minimizing what is happening, but Dr Fauci is not. I’m beginning to realize by mid-March that our planned trip to Arkansas for the first weekend in April for our grandson’s first birthday is not going to happen. By mid-March, more restaurants and businesses are closing. I am still going to work at the hospital and every day at work there is a new email notifying me of a change of some sort. Walmart grocery pickup falls apart in early March and I then need to grocery shop in person for my parents’ groceries. The local kids are about to go on spring break and ultimately school does not resume for their school year. I begin to realize that we will be in this mess for a while – but I was not thinking in about years. More in months.

Covid changed many plans – we were not going to take our trip to Ireland in September, there was no trip to Arkansas; we would be watching a grandson eating his birthday cake via Facetime. I was wearing a mask to go talk to my parents in their in-law apartment downstairs. I changed to wear scrubs to work vs. street clothes so I could easily undress once home from work. I was wearing a mask all day at work, and when out and about entering businesses. It was not initially policy, then it was. We were eating take out, wanting to support businesses somehow. The casual getting together with a friend was no more, attending church in a building as a group stopped. In other ways, it’s the same. No kids in this house to deal with and no school kids. Going to work remained the same for Dan and me – just mask wearing, getting a temp check upon entering daily. Initially, we were making or buying fabric masks. There were not enough masks at work so we’d wear them more than one day. The toilet paper hoarding early on was crazy. Covid19 is still changing this year as we enter the holiday season – and working will be a part of my plans. Hospitals don’t close. On an emotional level, it is sad to be distancing from friends and not having gatherings, but going to work and having friends to talk to there helps to avoid the feeling of isolation. Not seeing my mother-in-law for many months since she lives in an independent living facility that prevented visitors – very hard to think of her alone.

Eight months later: mask wearing is routine, knowing this is likely going to make life different for at least a couple of years. Pondering exposure and the randomness of people dying from this and others having mild symptoms and others having long term effects and not knowing what would happen if I were to become infected. Scientists and health care providers continue to learn, and people who learn on Google think they know more. Many people minimize the potential issue, but I am not overly casual about it. My day to day life is not that different, other than I assemble jigsaw puzzles now, and I continue to wear masks when on a visit to parents. Church has occasionally met by the river outside on good days and it is so wonderful to see faces. Work has settled in to mask wearing (no current shortage) and now there’s a machine that checks temp as we enter the hospital. Shopping means wearing a mask, a lot of take out food vs. restaurant dine in – but occasionally we’ve eaten outside at a restaurant and there is probably less frequent hand washing because crisis mode is hard to maintain. Walking outside has also become a part of my days at home this year.

America in 2020. Some aspects of this year are uplifting, some aspects are embarrassing, some are heartbreaking. It is not common for my culture to think it terms of what is good for the group and how I can contribute to that effort. Culturally, it’s been far more about the rights of the individual vs what is good for the collective. My rights and the government should not be controlling what I do – the dialogue I hear. (Seat belt laws, traffic regulations/lights, no service with no shoes or shirts, and needing licenses for certain practices – aren’t these regulations?) So the simple sacrifice of wearing a mask in an effort to control spread of the virus to others is too much for some and I’m puzzled as to why this is such a big deal. It might be since I wear one all day at work – where there is NO debate on this practice. No mask means no work. Also, this year – The continued exposure of systemic racism in our country is important and it seems positive to see awareness rising in more and more people (white people – like me), learning about what was in plain sight to BIPOC – this is a positive thing to me. But there is much more work to be done.

Election 2020 vs 2016. I was a person who just voted R for years with little thought about policies, describing myself as someone who was glad to have the right to vote, so I should. I did not think of myself as really political. And don’t white Christians just vote R? Simple. But in 2016, I voted third party and figured Hillary would win. I remember waking in the middle of the night hearing the news and was shocked to find out who was now president. It felt as though it was a bad dream. I have begun to think far more about politics and policies, but still feel not smart. But I am so very sad about how divisive things are currently in our country, and will also be so very sad if he wins again. Not simply because it’s him, but because of what it means regarding the voters who proudly voted for him, some of whom I consider friends. I do not understand at all. So I have used the option of early voting and nearly a month ago I cast my ballot for Biden/Harris. Even if he does not win, it is obvious that we are far more apart than ever before as a country – since possibly the Civil War when we nearly ended up with two countries. There is no perfect candidate, but my hopes for change in the country are going to be more about what helps the people Jesus said to care for. I am very early into this journey of paying attention and figuring out what is important to me as a voter – so I will continue to read and learn and pay attention locally as well.

The toll of 2020 – a sadness and frustration at the inability to be done with it. In some ways, it’s a year with so many losses – but I have not lost in the death of anyone I love, or lost a job, or been overly challenged financially. I am so very fortunate to only have to deal with frustration about not being able to be more social or to have travel plans changed. Not knowing how it will all evolve and how long it will take to find treatment is scary, so mostly I hope to survive if exposed and to be able find ways to see friends and family safely.

The beauty in this year is maybe in slowing down for so many. Paying closer attention to life. Being forced to step back from the relentless pace of doing all the things. Hard stop. Readjust and finding new ways to be in touch with people we love. Facetime and Zoom and talking more and socializing at a distance with the people we love – making it work since we’re in the long haul with this.

I’ve learned…. all the things above. 🙂

Right now – what do I care about? I miss “in person” family time with my adult children. I’m sad that this year, the holiday family gatherings will not be the same – but again, am relieved that it’s not due to loss of a person. Since family and friends mean more than stuff and things, what time we do have together becomes so much more appreciated.

How do I want to feel in Nov and Dec? I’m hoping I will be looking forward to the inauguration of a different president, I hope that I will be looking forward to seeing my grandson and family in early January, I want to feel hopeful and healthy. And if none of that happens, I want to still feel hopeful for some things, disturbed about what I should be disturbed about, and at peace about what I should be at peace about.