Dispatches from ‘The Other Side’


I’m 63 yrs old and for the first time in my life, I’m in a high risk category. That in of itself, is almost impossible to wrap my head around. Not to mention that a moment ago, I was making plans for beginning a new career and finding a new place to live. I was just embarking on a long-awaited life adventure.

Now, all of a sudden, at 63, I’m the deer in the headlights. I’m frozen in place, half-way across the highway as a huge virus-filled truck, barrels full speed, right at me. I can’t go back and I can’t go forward. Will the truck swerve and miss me or will I suffer the unthinkable collision?

While suspended here on the solid white line, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. And consequently, I came across an interview with the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, Larry Brilliant. He was interviewed in Wired Magazine.

According to Brilliant, “flattening the curve” does not decrease the total number of cases of Covid 19. It postpones them, “giving us a chance to develop a vaccine and an antiviral prophylactic” which he is confident we will – in 12 to 18 months. And only then will we be equipped to “cut off, reduce, or truncate the spread.”

So, if I stay removed from civilization for 12 to 18 months my chances of surviving this and going on with my plans are pretty good. The question is, if I’m not afraid of dying, how do I go about living?

I just moved out of my home, the one I shared with my soon to be ex-husband, into a friend’s house. I had an appointment to see a new apartment on the day Netanyahu told us to stay home. Even if I had taken that apartment, would I have been able to get a mover? Buy a bed and get it delivered? Even touched the boxes to unpack?

At the beginning of this week my sister and her husband welcomed me into their guest room, with open arms . We’re all over 60 so we’ll wait this out together, with family, Baruch Hashem.

According to Larry Brilliant, the world will get back to normal when three things happen.

1) Widespread testing to determine the scope of the virus.
2) We have a vaccine or antiviral treatment.
3) We begin to see large numbers of people essential to the operation of society, become immune and no longer infectious, determined through testing. They can be reintroduced into society to help reestablish “some sort of normal everyday existence”. (nurses, home health care providers, doctors, policemen, firemen, and teachers)

So according to Larry Brilliant, as individuals become immune through exposure or vaccination, we will all be able to get back to a life that is more familiar to us all.

But we have no idea how long it will take.

So, I think it’s time to let go of the decorating videos I’ve been watching. Time to stop planning the placement of my not-yet-purchased couch and deciding on paint colors. Time to put aside my plans for building a new life and concentrate on the life I’m in.

Only the NOW matters. Virtual hugs with my kids and grandchildren. Sharing words of encouragement and love. Finding pleasure and beauty in our increasingly shrinking world. Acts of kindness.

Because only relations matter. With my family, my friends and The Almighty.

And, maybe my sister will let me paint her guest room.

About the Author
Chana Veffer is originally from Canada and has lived most of her adult life in Israel. She embraces life with a whole heart and looks for inspiration from the Jewish nation's history and all people.
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