Coronavirus Days--Week 18
When I speak with friends, there is a constant we share--that sense of missing something, someone, a past that is no longer. And the biggest thing I miss is seeing my family, especially my parents. For the past couple of years, I've headed east every few months to visit. Several years ago, while they were still living at home, I'd go back to check on how they were, wanting to take a pulse of how things were going. Even though my sister and brother were there and saw them often, I had the perspective of not seeing them weekly, and when I visited, I stayed with them, and I would pick up on small things, changes, problems since I could see differences from months ago. Once they moved into their independent living apartment, I still visited every few months, since with their age and my mom's dementia, I always felt like something might change too drastically if I waited too long. I watched time carefully.
And since this pandemic has snuck in and made itself a long-term intruder, I am thankful that I visited so frequently. I last saw them towards the end of January, and I had a plane ticket to go back in late March during my spring break. That of course didn't happen. I don't know when I will get to see them again since the distance is too far a drive (several days and too many stops) and traveling by plane is not within my comfort zone for now (not essential, not safe). That is heartbreak. For me. For them, or at least for my dad since he understands what is happening with the virus.
They wear masks when they go outside to get a break from the inside of their apartment. They wear masks when they go outside for a 30 minute physically distanced visit with my sister. They wear masks when they are taken to a dentist appointment. Are they smiling underneath their masks? Nope, much like me when I wear a mask. I don't like it. It's not a feel good disguise. But I wear it whenever I go inside somewhere that is not my house. I wear it when I'm hanging outdoors with someone, and we're not ten feet or more apart. I wear it because it's the right thing to do to protect others, to protect me, to do whatever small part I can to live through these fearful times.
Whenever I start to feel too isolated, angry about not having my usual carefree summer, I remember my parents and the sense of isolation my dad feels. While he has my mom, she isn't much company since she is lost to the world of dementia. Sure she knows who he is, most of the time, but she can't engage in much conversation, and she spends most of the day sleeping. My dad doesn't have his dinner time companions since now all meals are served to them, left at the door for them to retrieve. He doesn't complain, but he worries. Worries that the country will not recover. Worries about anything that goes slightly wrong in his world, such as a cleaner not showing up when scheduled, because his world is so small with no distractions, and like all of us, he has no control. Worries that he and my mom will get sick and be discarded due to their age. I call several times a week, and we try to connect. I hear their voices. I see their faces (through the mask) when my sister visits them and sends a pic. That is the reality for now. For weeks to come. Most likely for the rest of 2020.
I accept this, even though I certainly don't like it. I accept many things lately, even though I don't like them. Perhaps it's a type of surrender. Perhaps it's my wee zen grasshopper letting go of a little control. I still struggle. We all struggle, some more than others, some days more than others. I do believe these coronavirus days will depart, hopefully end. I just can't predict the when.