There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
–From Blossoms by Li Young Lee
Love in the Time of Corona
The happiest days of my entire life have been during the global pandemic known as Corona. For starters, I haven’t died, and nobody I love has died. There are days when I’m relieved that my parents have already died. That way I don’t have to worry about them dying on ventilators alone in hospital rooms. I couldn’t bear it. Except when it happens to you, you do bear it. You have no choice, just as I had no choice but to bear the long and drawn out dying of my parents. First, my dad, from Alzheimer’s and next, my mom, from heart disease.
Suffice to say, my heart breaks for everyone who has endured loss at the hands of a virus that pranced over some and obliterated others.
The New Collective Nightmares
Like everyone, I’m a little nervous about the future, particularly next flu season. After all, how long can we dodge this beast? Our collective nightmares are filled with conveyor belts, keypads, doorknobs, and service counters. And, that’s not all. A simple trip to the grocery store for milk, eggs, bread, and produce, can create compulsive worry, sickness, death. Did I wipe everything down? Did I wipe down my wipe-downs? Do I need to wash the soap?
The other day I went to Wal-Mart and when I got in the car I grabbed the steering wheel with my germed-up rubber gloves. I quickly pulled them off and then touched the steering wheel AGAIN possibly transferring whatever may have been on the gloves to my hands! Also, while in the grocery store, I reached under my face mask to scratch a tickle on my face. I did this with my rubber-gloved hand that had basically touched everything in the store. OMG. Are you kidding me? Who can live like this?
And Then A Gigantic Opossum Strolled By
Nevertheless, beyond this insanity, life for me during the pandemic has been happy. Perhaps it is, as Professor Megan Gerhardt, Miami University, wrote in her viral piece, Coronavirus quarantine? Gen X was made for this. Boomers and Gen Z, not so much:
When it comes to Generation X, the formative experiences…have indeed positioned us well for our present reality of sheltering in place. Still, our current life stage also gives us increased motivation to be role models for staying home…”
I have definitely enjoyed mostly every second at home with my family. I’m especially grateful for all the extra time I’ve been able to spend with my 1-year-old granddaughter Willow. There have been other blessings, too. For example, I live near a large employment hub about a mile from a busy highway. During life before Corona, the hum of traffic began around 5 a.m. and steadily increased as the day wore on. But, during shelter-in-place, it’s been gone, mirroring in some measure the ever so brief solitude families in the Heartland experience during storm season. When the tornados spin up we all hunker down and hold each other close and listen.
During the pandemic, the mornings have been so quiet, I can hear dozens of birds singing. The decrease in traffic has also improved local air quality. At the same time, increased activity in neighborhoods has disrupted urban wildlife. I was doing yard work the other day when a gigantic opossum strolled by. He continued at a leisurely gait all the way down the street.
I’m going to miss all this and I feel a sense of dread as the Heartland prepares for a soft opening.
Like, This Never Happens
Without a doubt, Corona has given Americans a break from rampant consumerism. Like, this never happens.We’ve been exhausted for years, and the only way we were ever going to get a break was through a global pandemic. How sad is that? For, as the poet Li Young Lee reminds us in his seminal work, From Blossoms, death is always in the background. The pandemic moved it to the foreground. Horrible tragedies in Asia, Europe, and North America notwithstanding, I have lived joy to joy, blossom to blossom, for weeks.
I’m going to remember this time forever. For the first time in years, I’ve gotten plenty of sleep and had time for silly TV shows like Nailed It. The kids and I spent a few days baking and decorating cakes. While nobody should quit their day job, we had a blast. There have also been endless days of homecooked meals and new books. I burned through Melanie Shankle’s On The Bright Side in no time flat. Love her and her blog.
I Even Bathed A Doll
To everyone’s delight, we cooked s’mores around a backyard campfire. I’ve even subjected myself to a few board games. Heck, I organized 75 bins in the basement (total bliss) and in the process found my Fisher-Price My Friend Jenny Doll. She was a gift from my father during the Christmas of 1975. I promptly restored her to her previous glory and gave her to Willow.
In summary, for the first time in my adult life, I bathed a doll, washed and rolled her hair, and put it in ponytails. Life has never given me an opportunity like this, lol, not even when I was a young mother with young children. Apart from this, Jenny (who might be named Mary in real life) was quite happy to get the salon treatment after more than 40 years.
Finally, during Corona, scores of people, most of whom I’ve never seen, have poured out of their houses and onto the streets of our neighborhood. Children have crowded the sidewalks with their scooters and bikes, both day and night. Efforts to comply with social distancing haven’t blinded me to the relief on the faces of virtually everyone. Oh, sweet love in the time of Corona. And, I can’t help but say it: I wish we could live like this forever, sans the deadly virus, of course.