I wake up in the early morning and pad to the kitchen without the usual pitter patter of paws following me.
My furry friend is still in dreamland, stretched out on the rug at the foot of our bed.
Even the dog seems to sense the difference in our days, the familiar routines altered, the patterns disrupted, as a tiny, pesky virus has upended the normalcy of our lives.
So it is now, as we hunker down at home and await the onward march of Corona that is leaving thousands in its wake. Some are infected with what seems like a bad case of flu; others tragically felled by its mighty power to lodge in the lungs and impede the very passage of life giving breath. And so we shelter and shutter and shudder.
COVID-19, where did you come from? Where are you going? And when are you leaving?
Doctors and researchers are feverishly putting their best minds to work to answer the questions and stay the deadly attack, while government officials are working to stop its spread with measures to limit human contact and provide relief. Community professionals and volunteers are in overdrive reaching out to those most vulnerable and in need, the poor, the sick, the homeless, those with little if any of the material comforts of home, a roof over their heads, a meal on the table, a loving companion, a helping hand.
The economic consequences are devastating, as the virus slams small businesses, restaurants, gig workers and threatens the survival of entire industries.
Unemployment rises, anxiety increases, fear grips us as we face the big unknown.
Day to day, week to week, the story changes and changes us as we struggle to confront a new reality of meetings cancelled, events postponed, plans scuttled, travel curtailed. At first life seems disjointed, structure in abeyance, time spooling out in long uneven stretches. Even as work and workouts, school and communal obligations move from live encounters to virtual ones, there is still a palpable slowdown, a lessening in the immediacy of it all, in the importance of it all, and us.
Our own individual self worth often measured in our busyness, in the number of events crammed on our calendars, diminishes as time expands. We begin to think about what really matters. And so, there is a heightened appreciation of the little pleasures in life, cooking a meal, eating at home, reading a book, watching an old movie. Delight in being outdoors, taking a hike, walking the dog, going to the park. Wonder at nature’s beauty, our senses more acutely attuned to the sounds of a bird’s call, the view of the morning’s shifting skyscapes, the miraculous sight of the blooms on the cacti. There’s the comfort of company, of conversation, of time to reflect and share. There’s the joy in talking to our kids, in the texts filled with our grandkids’ antics, to virtual birthdays and Zoomed family visits. There’s the gift of calling an elderly shut in and hearing her laugh. There’s the pleasure in reaching out to an old friend to just talk, to reconnecting with those with whom we’ve lost touch and the mutual enjoyment in catching up. There’s time, more time, to do these things, and appreciation for the very simple acts of human connection and kindness and generosity.
Gratitude, too, for it all, and for a life that has been full and for each day we are given to add to its measure. And the hope to keep us and those we love out of harm’s way, and the message, stay safe, be healthy, take care.