We waited to do anything major yesterday until we’d seen the news conference from Alabama’s Governor concerning reopening the state. As a family touched by this virus, we felt great relief when we heard that she was going with the science and taking a slow and measured approach to bringing us back to whatever our new normal will be. Still, just hearing it all sent my anxiety into overdrive, so I took off for a long walk with Marley around the neighborhood.
I find it ironic that after weeks of social isolation, the huge introvert and INFJ that I am is finding the thought of life coming back full force stressful. Don’t get me wrong; I want people to return to work and for the economy to be all right- I don’t want anyone to suffer. I am both fearful of another COVID-19 wave knocking us out again and doing irreparable damage, and of returning to a life that will be so very different. Truly, there is no ‘will be’…it already is.
Aside from teaching my students and a few virtual professional obligations, I have focused my energies on working on the house and yard with Dan, something we love doing together. Finally, there is time to dig in and take care of projects that we typically cram into weekends. We also had our home and guesthouse sanitized to give us peace of mind. Even though we know that the virus only lives on surfaces for up to three days and that we could reintroduce it again from trips to the store, just feeling like we had a clean slate made it very worth it to us. Afterward we cleaned and scrubbed, washing all of the curtains, wiping down everything. Our one hundred year old home has never been so clean. This house is such a part of us, that working on it feels like working on us, too. Therapeutic, for sure.
So what now? How do we move forward physically and mentally in this time of such uncertainty? I know the answer will be different for each of us. I think of my former student, Vincent, who is a travel nurse. He chose to go to New Jersey to help in the battle against COVID-19 because he wanted to help. He sends video messages to me, describing what he is experiencing. I am both awed and humbled by his courage and dedication. He gives me hope that the good people in all of this will always rise to the top and make the world a better place.
When I hear the stories that Vincent and others are sharing, I feel like such a weakling to be sitting at home racked with anxiety. Those working in hospitals and essential businesses are out there dealing with the real trauma of this situation, and I am so grateful for them. I want to contribute, but I know that the best thing I can do is stay home as much as possible, and to try to lift people up and encourage them in the small ways that I am able. It all feels so minuscule in the big scheme of things, but it’s what I have right now until things change. Perhaps my biggest fear is what the trauma of all this will do to everyone when the virus’ has lost its grip on us. I think the impact will be long-lasting and deep on many levels.
I’m not sure what is next; I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of another, doing the small things I can do, attempting to wrap my head around it all. I don’t know how meaningful or helpful those small things are or will be; I only know that I have to keep trying. It’s the only way through.