June 12, 2020
I am sitting at my kitchen table, reminding myself to get up and stretch, expand my horizons, go out into the garden, focus on a flower, notice a butterfly, eat something healthy, turn off the pings of Facebook and Twitter and debating whether I should risk going to the grocery store, the post office, the bank. For almost fifty years there has been a rhythm to my life of community connection as I bought a stamp, picked up tonight’s dinner, made a deposit. I used to joke that my people were aisle four, five pm, Tuesdays at Harvest. If I changed my shopping time or day, I discovered a long-lost tribe of neighbors and friends hiding out at aisle three, ten am, Wednesdays. Now we are going on month four, I have run out of closets to curate, drawers to neaten, old photos, letters and books to sort. I miss people, I miss hugging in the produce aisle and I miss my community.
Recently my husband had a medical event necessitating a 911 call. There is something comforting about recognizing your first responders despite their N-95 masks and our cloth ones. And also, something terrifying about seeing the look of concern and caution in their eyes as we go through the litany of Corona Virus symptoms. My darling dear fire department EMTs and ambulance crew gently told me to stay home, that the parking lot of the hospital at 10 o’clock at night was no place for a lady of my 74 years. That I would be there for hours by myself and no, I could not follow my husband into the ER as they wheeled him out on a gurney.
Fortunately, it turns out to be a reaction to a new drug and I am able to pick my husband up several hours later. I count our blessings. I can’t imagine calling 911 and never seeing him again, an experience that happened recently to close friends of ours after a marriage of over fifty years because Corona Virus means no visitors and no ability to console loved ones in person regardless of the reason for admission, diagnosis or cause of death.
At our age, not being able to comfort each other when illness strikes is the hardest of all. I think of 115,000 deaths and all the hospitalizations and deaths to come and am overwhelmed with sadness at the trauma of separation and the thought of grieving in solitary.
I miss my grandchildren and their parents. I am forever grateful that one adult child and her partner moved home to help us. I am proud of my son who is working with the homeless in Ukiah. We visit on our deck from a good eight feet. We wear masks, hold our breath and risk a hug.
More than ever, I am aware of the inequity of economics deciding who will be vulnerable and who will have the luxury of isolation. If you are fortunate enough to be reading this, please help MCCF help our local families who are struggling. As our community opens up, more of our community will be at risk. Let’s not risk our humanity by leaving anyone behind to fend for themselves.