“We live inside historic moments, unaware of their significance.” One of my high school history teachers told us that. He said historians will one day study our time and lives and suggested we record our observations and thoughts to assist them. “Or do it for your future children and grandchildren.” The hint of sex in our future made the boys leer at the girls, which made the girls giggle and the teacher sigh.
I started a journal but struggled with what to say. In 1969 the events of significance were not happening in my town. That history was in Bethel, New York at Woodstock, and Washington DC for the moratorium against the Vietnam War, and 228,900 miles away with Neil Armstrong’s step on the moon.
Fifty-one years later I am living in the time of Covid-19. I am in this historic moment with 7,655,957,369 others-give or take. Maybe take… since that is happening in greater numbers than anyone will admit. But those lives may be replaced by a predicted population explosion in coming months.
What I am experiencing doesn’t feel significant, but that’s not for me to determine. That is something I didn’t understand in 1969. I am now a writer and I’ve been taking notes.
There are days I wake up and forget this is happening, and nights I cannot sleep because I know it is.
Early on I heard a doctor predict that everyone will know someone who will become very sick and possibly die from this. I mentally sifted through lists of family and friends and ordered myself stop thinking about it, because there was nothing I could do to stop it. I obeyed that order for awhile, but never completely. And then nothing happened. Weeks went by without anyone I knew getting sick—so long I didn’t have make myself stop thinking about it. I just stopped.
I still felt bad, watching the death toll rise, but I didn’t know anyone on the list. My friends and family wore masks, and washed their hands longer than the prescribed time, and sheltered-in place.
And my people, the ones who are black, were safer because they were staying inside. They weren’t going to work. They weren’t out driving. They weren’t out in the world with their black skin. They were at home. Loved. Protected.
But inside our home we watched the news. Not all day, but enough. Enough to know the rising numbers of cases. Enough to see that even this is disproportionately affecting people of color.
And then there were the news reports about the shootings of Ahmaud Abery and Breonna Taylor. The choking of George Floyd. The world-wide explosion of response.
Inside our house, George and I talked more about racism in the last two months than we have throughout our fifty years together. We felt equal parts enraged and encouraged. But I know us. We will lean toward encouragement. It seems there are more people, more white people tired of this nonsense too. And that, in the past, was missing. Not enough white people who cared enough and for long enough.
And then I received an email from a friend who had it. She is an emergency funeral care provider and her services had been needed—a lot. She was careful, followed protocol, wore protective gear, but had to pick up the body of a man suspected of having COVID. When she repositioned his body, retained breath escaped. The virus found its way into a live host. My friend fought through this and recovered, but now gets winded walking up the stairs to her third floor apartment. Before Covid she could take steps two at a time while carrying bags of groceries.
One night, very late, George got a text that his brother, Carl, was admitted to a hospital in Jacksonville, Florida unable to breathe. George didn’t wake me up to tell me. He waited until I was up, and dressed, had made coffee, and was sitting at my desk doing my morning writing. I couldn’t write down my thoughts. I wasn’t thinking. George prayed and I cried. Carl went from needing oxygen in the ER, to a ventilator in ICU. After four weeks he needed a tracheotomy too. Last weekend we got word he has been moved into a rehab center to wean off the ventilator. No one is talking out loud about the hospital bill. Carl was worried about his finances before he got sick. That is why he got sick. He couldn’t afford to stay home.
My people were not staying at home and keeping safe. I didn’t know that. If I had, I would have worried more. But Carl would have still gotten sick. Worry changes nothing. My mother-in-law told me that years ago. “Give them your best and pray for their good sense.”
Our youngest granddaughter, after two months of connecting with us only through zoom, dissolved into uncontrollable crying. “I miss Gani and Papa.” This happened several times a day for a solid week. To console her, my daughter promised a road trip from their house in Las Vegas to our house in Rockford. They set a date and created a calendar to mark off the days.
I ordered zinc, and doubled up on vitamin C. We welcomed them at 1:00 AM. The youngest granddaughter had made her mother promise to wake her up if she was asleep so she could hug us.
They have been here over a month and no one got sick. We have played with dolls and monsters, watched movies, painted pictures, danced, sang, cleaned the grave of my parents, gone to the beach, rode bikes, blown bubbles, soaked in the hot tub, did a ceremony for a tree that fell on our house without hurting anyone, and created a fairy town on the stump of a 160 year old oak tree we cut down after the live one fell. It would have been cheaper to wait until fall to cut it down, but decided to go ahead and do it now. George and I both had a feeling—and last night a horrific storm with high winds came through. Sirens went off and weather service advised we seek shelter. “Expect damage to cars, and mobile homes.” We don’t know if the storm would have knocked our beloved oak tree’s massive dead branches on the house, or our daughter’s car…but this isn’t the year to take chances.
My daughter and grandkids left this morning. The oldest ones are ready to go back to their bigger house with their own rooms, and their two dogs, and their oldest brother, and their dad.
The youngest has been crying off and on for the last week. I can’t console her because I can’t promise when we will see each other again. I won’t lie to children about real things. Only magical things. I suggested she take a couple of fairy houses home with her. “The fairies will fly back and forth and carry messages for us.”
“I wish we were fairies, Gani.”
“Me too. If I were, I’d take away the virus. It would disappear like magic.”
She looked up and stared at my face for a moment, then shook her head. “That won’t happen.”
“No, my smart girl. It won’t.”
Oh, Sharon! This is a beautifully written testimonial, one of the best that I have read since the novel coronavirus hit the news. First, I had a moderate case of covid-19, starting with exposure on Saturday, January 11th. I was ill for nearly a month. Then, news came that the manager / owner of a favorite restaurant of ours had died of covid, leaving behind his wife, children, and a host of friends who adored him. More recently, my sister-in-law in Kansas fell ill. She was taken to a Topeka, KS, hospital, and was admitted with covid. No one could visit her. Her husband and his brother and wife were placed on a fourteen-day quarantine. Jeanette was moved to C.C.U. Soon after, her brother was admitted for the same reason, and they were two rooms apart. Covid-19 is rampant in our country, and even a small town in Kansas is not immune. –Your former Q.H.S. classmate, Anne (Kratzer) Swarts
Thank you Anne. Sorry to hear you had this, but glad to hear you recovered. So sad so many are suffering…and I fear many more will. Thank you for taking time to read and leave your comment. Take good care, Sharon
Blessings upon Carl and all of your loved ones.🙏 ❤🙏
Got choked up & teary-eyed. ❤
Wish fairies could offer the world relief.
Thank you for stories of love,faith,hope.
Thank you, Barb…love you!
Dear Sharon. Thank you for posting this touching description of your life in 2020. I’m glad your daughter had the courage to travel with her children all that way so they could be with you for awhile. I know that took a lot of preparation and determination on her part, in order to keep everyone safe during the journey there and back home. Our families are so precious to us and we truly need them. I miss the freedom we all had before this pandemic began, but I am used to living alone. Fortunately I have family living near, and wonderful neighbors as well as a Bahai community, so in a sense I’m never alone.
Love and best wishes to you and George.
Thank you, Dottie. Much love to you as well!
So many tears after reading this. So beautifully and lovingly written. One of my grands and I used to spend every weekend together. She was so excited when I moved to “her” town so we could do more together, and she ‘graduated’ to being old enough to spend more than just one night at Mema’s house. Such joy-fulled times. And we built fairy houses from collected twigs and leaves and acorns and such, and played with the floofies and took good care of Mr. Ferny and just rejoiced in living and life. Then the pandemic hit and it has been so very difficult for all of us. We keep in touch through video chats, watch movies together, play games… but we all know it is not the same. We miss the hugs and the tickles and the warm that physical proximity to those we love brings. My daughter dropped by a week or so ago and had to come into the apartment to drop something off that was too big to shove through my “pass through” window. I said “to hell with distancing” and gave her a mighty hug – she also felt the need. We’ve survived that. But, your writing here just touches so many things we all are sharing right now. Bless you and bless your family. It was wonderful and heart-warming to read of the time you were able to spend together. May you all have many more years of joyous times together such as this. Thank you for sharing! Love to you.
Thank you…appreciate you taking time to read and share your thoughts with me. Getting thru this together!