Tuesday, May 12, 2020

My Covid-19 Life (and maybe yours, too)

Some have indicated for historical reasons, we need to document our lives in these unprecedented times.

So, if you’re a researcher in 2120, and you need to know about the life of this writer during a viral plague, here goesthe funny, the sad, the frustrating, and the hope that sustained.

I’ve heard others say their lives have not changed much. To a degree, that’s true. Jerry and I have continued to work at home, as we have these past years. At the outset, when the pandemic unfolded at warp speed, my racing mind found it hard to connect threads in a book length project. After a few weeks, I was able to focus enough to get the train back on track and am now finishing a Christmas novella. So, the writing at least has remained somewhat the same. 

But, and I say a big but here, not much else is as it was.

A meme circulating at the outset of the pandemic featured a woman with a video camera. The text read something like, “And just like that, all the preacher’s spouses turned into audio visual experts.” In a small membership church like ours, there’s not a team of experts doing this. It’s just the one here with the preacher, which happens to be me, which is the case for many, many churches.

I am thankful I’ve been able to order root touch up, so I can spray my balding scalp because of the takes, the retakes, the interruptions, and the lighting problems. Praying someone else will soon take this job. Doing it now for Jesus and Jerry. But we are thankful at least for being able to stay in touch with our people this way even though it is far less than ideal.

Buying groceries takes more effort. Because of our underlying conditions, for eight weeks, I did all ordering online and picked up curbside. I found supplies limited and wait times for pick up extending to as much as a week or more. Some items like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and baking powder were not available at all. Before bringing items in the house, I wiped everything down. We were told initially this was not necessary, but I did it anyway. Now we’re told that maybe it is necessary. That has been one of the frustrations for us all. Advice changes as research progresses, because there’s so much we don’t know. Last week, I ventured to the grocery during an early shopping hour for the first time since the pandemic began. I used to despise grocery shopping, but I was giddy with excitement to be in the store again. My how my perspective has changed.

As to the whole toilet paper thing. A friend of ours observed, “Who knew someone could eat a bat on the other side of the world and cause a toilet paper shortage in the US?” Yeah, who knew? Jerry felt proud of himself at the beginning of lockdown when he found toilet paper online and placed an order. One April day after we returned from a walk, I opened the mailbox to retrieve the mail and found a package.

 “Did you order a pair of shoes?” I asked Jerry to which he shook his head. When I slit the package open, I found twelve rolls of toilet paperall in a package the size of a shoebox for the low, low price of around eighteen dollars. The cardboard tubes were larger than normal with about thirty sheets wrapped around each one. Guess where it was made? That place on the other side of the world where all this started. “Didn’t you read the reviews?” I asked Jerry.

“There weren’t any,” he said. But when we looked, they’d started pouring in. “Doll house toilet paper,” said one. “Joke,” said another. “Terrible rip off,” another comment read. It has since been taken off the market. We at least got a laugh out of it.

In Jerry’s calling as a pastor, funerals have always been part of our lives, but they were balanced with weddings, baptisms, and other joyful events. But during this time, it’s been all funerals. And they are more painful than before. I often ride with Jerry to show respect to the family, but up to this point cannot attend because attendees are limited to family. I sit in the car as the family gathers at the graveside. They maintain their six feet distance unable to comfort each other in the usual way. Just before the service, I step outside the car with a large red heart I’ve made to express my love. Jerry walks up and delivers the message maintaining his distance. Then he leaves. No reception afterwards. The families go home to grieve alone.  

He’s made no hospital visits in months. Families for the most part cannot be with their hospitalized loved ones. So incredibly challenging and frustrating as a pastor family.
Then there is the mask shortage. A nurse practitioner friend who works for a large metropolitan hospital is allotted one N95 mask per week. I set out to make cloth masks for her to extend the life of the N95 as well as surgical caps which are also in short supply. Then I added other nurses to the list. I made a few masks for our daughter's PT practice. The county government wanted one of our winter homeless shelters to reopen during the pandemic, so I made around 20 masks for the homeless so they could open.  The list goes on, but to date I’ve made over 130 masks. Don’t be the least impressed. A woman in a mask making social media group I’m in has made over 600. I’m sure she’s not the only one. I keep sewing because I don’t see an end to this until we have a vaccine.

We have celebrated Easter alone, Mother’s Day alone, with no family or for that matter anyone in our house in eight weeks. I’m pretty sure none of that is changing anytime soon.

When I feel sorry for myself, I pray for my friend who has a daughter in Northern Italy and has no idea when she will see her again, friends who've lost a sister, a spouse, and a child during this time. I remember medical professionals who are isolating from their families or living with the anxiety of spreading the virus to someone they love. My heart is burdened for the third world who is struggling with devastating problems related to the virus.
Some things haven’t changed, but much of my life is different and I imagine will be for some time. When it feels as if this pandemic is a nightmare I can’t wake from, I remember these words, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). I put my hope and trust in the One who is unchanged by this Pandemicthe One whose love for us endures through any hard timethe One who is a companion in our loneliness and a comfort in our grief.

If you’re a hundred years in the future and researching our lives during this time, or you’re in 2020 and  looking for a way to make it through these days, turn to Jesus. He will help you with your COVID-19 life or your life in any other time, as well.

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