State of Emergency

A blog post series about the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Day One – March 17th 2020

Last night, my 75 year old mother read me a bedtime story for the first time in several decades. Okay, she wasn’t reading it to me, she was reading it to my seven-year-old son via FaceTime, but it was still pretty damn sweet. She and my dad, who is also in his seventies, have decided to self-isolate at home. We’ve been asked to stay away. I have no problem with this because my dad fits the profile for the people who are hardest hit by the virus.

It feels so strange to not be able to visit. I see them and speak to them every day right now, when before I’d call once a week. 

I’ve been largely self-isolating too because I live in a building full of seniors, and I want to protect my neighbours. I think of Ernie, a 97 year old vet who rolls his oxygen tank around and parks himself in the lobby so he doesn’t get lonely. Ernie was out to get lottery tickets the other day. My son wanted to run up and chat, as we usually do, but I had to stop him. I scolded Ernie for leaving the building, but he waved me off. Maybe it’s a different perspective when you’re almost 98 and have lived through a war.

We’d started exclusively taking the stairs about a month before this all began, as part of a personal fitness challenge. Nobody takes the stairs in this building. We’d also started having groceries delivered, to save time as we throw our energy into the businesses we’ve just launched. I’m blessed to have some income from online business, and I’ve become very good at staying in and amusing myself. I’ve also had a solid year of homeschooling under my belt. I think I’ll feel the strain, but I know I’m well-suited to adapting and getting by.

My greatest fear, after spreading contagion to the vulnerable, and worry over something happening to my parents, is finding myself unable to see my kids. I think this is something lots of families are facing, when they’ve been split into two separate households. I’m very grateful that things are pleasant enough with my exes that we can gather together for dinner and game nights. It’s the only place I go. If we are asked to shut down and not leave our homes except for essentials, I’ve decided I’ll move in there for a little while. It’s a whole house with five bedrooms. I’m in a one bedroom apartment. My daughters had stopped coming over here for regular visits well before the pandemic because there was no break-out space for homework or for taking a breather from their little brother. Now my new partner lives here too.

He’s said he understands my need to be with my children. He’s also welcome in the ‘family bunker’ as we’re calling it. The kids are very fond of him and my exes are cool with it. Just as he understands my need to be with my kids, I understand how odd it could be for him to be living there.
Until we are ordered indoors, I’m staying in except to visit the kids and go for walks. People are spread out enough that I can do this without encountering anyone else. There’s a large cemetery where I live, and it’s my place of choice, though an odd one during times like these.

The kids are taking this in stride. My eldest is sad about missing school this semester because she was excited about all the courses she was enrolled in. She’s been hard at work at gruelling rehearsals for her high school musical, and she’s worried about the fate of the production. My middle kid is a highly-social creature. She’s always thrived in a group, and she’s feeling stir crazy already. Her grade eight class has had a hell of a tumultuous year, cycling through a few teachers and losing their graduation celebrations to the teachers’ strikes. The whole thing seemed doomed. My son could not be happier about the idea of not having to go to school. He loves his teacher and his friends, but I know he’s one of those kids not cut out for traditional education. He’s created a home school schedule and can’t wait to get started.

I’m looking at creative ways to serve others and still generate income. I’m moving all of my guided journal coaching sessions and workshops online, and offering these for a ‘pay what you can price’. (You can find these at The Sacred Pen). I’m posting daily writing prompts so people can hit a pause button and connect with their Reflective Writing. I’ve let my novel podcast fall by the wayside. It feels a bit silly now.

I feel for my friends who are largely artists and small business owners. Our wedding industry has been suspended, all of the small retail stores are closing, performance venues shut down a week ago. So many people in the same precarious financial boat at least create a need for help from the powers that be. 

Despite being cut off from seeing most of the people I love, I feel more connected than ever. Everyone is checking in with each, making sure we’re all safe and managing stress. Everyone is staying close, despite the physical distance.

I feel you all, and you’re in my heart.  How are you moving through this?