Desi Yishay
We are what our thinking makes us...

Covid19: The virus I hate to love


By now, we all realise that the Coronavirus is a complete global disaster. We know that many of us will unfortunately lose loved ones. And as international citizens we unequivocally abhor this pandemic.   

In my life, I have never experienced such uncertainty: Will We be able to celebrate Pesach with our extended family? When will school resume? Will I get paid next month? Will I be able to go for a run tomorrow morning? There sadly is just no definitive answer to any of these questions.

As a control-freak, weekends – although vital to my mental health – often derail me because of the lack of routine. I live by a crazy, hour-by-hour schedule. Everyday I wake up early to fit in a twenty minute run. I make sure that my kids are awake, dressed, fed and on time for school before I leave for work. I always kiss my husband goodbye. At work I am all go-go-go from the time I arrive, troubleshooting, inspiring and working on logistics until I leave. I have scheduled stimulating after school activities for each of my children. For dinner, I prepare healthy protein filled meals with lots of vegetables. My kids are in bed by 19:15 sharp (after an educational bedtime story of course). And I have precisely two hours with my husband before I get an exact 8 hours of sleep so I can start my crazy life again the next morning.

I cannot remember a time where I didn’t wish life would just slow down. How many times have I wished to have more than just three hours a day with my beautiful children? When have I ever not wanted more time to hang out with my husband? Deep and meaningful conversations. Puzzle time. Family meals. Snuggles and cuddles. Pajama days. Popcorn and M&Ms. Warm coffee. Strolls in the sun. selfies, videos and snapchats. 

And BOOM! Here it is. In my face, all day long for two weeks and counting. 

This lockdown should be killing me. This complete surrender to unpredictability should be debilitating. I should be a wreck working from home, trying by some miracle to micro-manage around the clock. My very intricate, carefully planned world should come crashing down any day now.

And yet if I push all the doom and gloom aside for just a minute – it seems as if my prayers have actually been answered. All that slowing down I’ve always asked for has been served to me on a silver platter.

Last Friday night, after an intense week together in quarantine, I sat on my couch (in my pajamas) next to my kids and husband singing kabbalat shabbat. We prayed together, ate and held interesting conversations and played board games as if it was still a once-a-week luxury. I carried my youngest’s heavy, sleeping body upstairs to bed and tucked in my other children. I crept into my own bed and did not fall asleep immediately for the first time in what seemed like forever. I was awake and had time to think, plan and ponder life’s great mysteries. 

It was then that I realised how little I need in my life to make me truly and absolutely happy. Everything important to me, everything that I hold dear – is right here with me, under one roof. I decided then and there, to embrace this uncertainty and savor it because I don’t know when it will end. Life is short, they say. Don’t wish away time. 

I am so very clearly not in control. There is a higher force at play here. Humanity does not, after all, have all the answers, solutions and power. Yes, I’m still worried and filled with anxiety. I also have no idea how to push through the next week, let alone the next month. It’s incredibly humbling and extremely nerve wracking. 

For now I am taking it one day at a time and I intend on riding the wave and enjoying the rush of the wind while it lasts. We will play, talk, hug, sing, dance and bask in each other’s person right up until bedtime. It won’t always be perfect and it certainly won’t always be fun – but this is time that I have always wanted and I intend on using it wisely, no matter how hard it gets. 

I want to look back fondly at March 2020 and be unable to hide a smile as I recall all the marvelous memories we made when time finally slowed down. This terrible, wonderful, horrifying and tremendous gift has been given to me, and as with all gifts I receive, I say thank you.

About the Author
Born in South Africa and educated by the impeccable ideals of Bnei Akiva and the South African Jewish community, Desi has been intensely involved in the education of Jews of all ages around the world for over 15 years. Recently returned to Israel, Desi is the principal of YTA girls high school in Jerusalem and lives in Efrat with her husband and 4 children.
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