Vacation Pandemic – Day 1

I remember a time, not long ago, I woke up thinking I was in a dream. Surely any moment I would wake up and it would all be over, surely we didn’t elected Trump as our nation’s president…

I woke up this morning after being awake for nearly 20 hours, after 8 hours of work, then driving 277 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes. I woke up thinking I was in a dream, and that any moment I would wake up.

But time keeps ticking, and I slowly realize that my eyes are really open. There is no waking from this. No number of dystopian novels, or zombie movies can really prepare you for this. This thing that happens on your TV screen, not outside your door. But the truth is, we are in a pandemic. And I watch as it spills outwards, ripples off of a dropped stone into a pond. I watch as it oozes closer, erupted lava, and we are running out of pillows to jump on. There is no where to run.

I still find myself laughing a little on the inside, who says things like that and really means it? But I close my eyes and all I see is Jason Voorhees coming towards me at his slow, but inevitable pace, machete full of virus…

But what really scares me, is the madness, the hysteria around me. The store shelves stripped empty by fear. Thoughtless fear. People buying the bandaids, but not the Neosporin. People shunning Asians as if each one of them carries the leper virus. Avoiding their shops and restaurants and forgetting that Asians once put their blood, sweat, and tears into helping build this country.

I find myself shaking, twitching, just trying to flick the remnants of this bad dream off and try to get back to my life. But the world is shutting down around me. Schools closing for the safety of our youth. Businesses trying to stay strong, to be a source of comfort and normalcy for people, slowly dropping like flies. Highway traffic tapering off to trickles. The world is shutting down around me. Like in Hollywood videos, when the power to a large city gets shut off. You watch the town from some high vantage point, maybe a birds eye view, as sections go dark, one. by. one. Until all there is is darkness. And silence.

Four years ago I woke up to a newly divided nation. Angry. So much anger and hatred bubbled to the surface. And there was fear. Fear of our own safety, fear of our neighbor, fear of our own president. And I didn’t believe that things could get worse.

Today I woke up to a shattered nation. Fear. We are afraid of our very selves. And to some extent, I think, afraid of what could come next.

I drove up to my parent’s place to spend my days off. Sometime during the drive it seemed, this town shut down as well. It, at first, felt almost pointless to be up here. But the truth is, the situation is no better at home. And at times like this, I would rather spend it with loved ones, than by myself, in true isolation.

Hiatus – Day 4

…Sombre Thoughts…

We rose early, drove thru the rain, caught a ferry, and found ourselves at the hospital. Perhaps I’d been keeping the idea at arms length, to deny the truth of it, but as the elevator doors opened and we saw their familiar faces, the truth came crashing to the forefront of my world: She is sick, really sick…

At some point in my twenties, I think I just stopped. Stopped growing, stopped progressing, stopped moving forward in my life. I still run to my parents when my heart is broken. I still call my dad when there is something wrong with my car. I still have boxes of childhood things hidden somewhere in my parent’s garage. I’m not grown up yet, I can’t be. I don’t have friends whos parents are dead of semi-natural causes. I didn’t graduate with a small town guy whos dance group nearly won America’s Got Talent. Our closest family friend’s oldest daughter isn’t currently fighting a rare and aggressive form of cancer for her life…

We hug, and smile, and are happy for the familiar faces. Yesterday was a bad day, and at this point, they are simply getting thru each day. Unsure of what tomorrow will bring, or the day after, or when life eventually calls them back home. Who wakes up with a game plan for this sort of thing? We decide to go get pizza for lunch. 

I am not sure if I am quiet because I am tired, or if it is because I am unsure of what to say. I can admittedly lecture others on the sorts of things to think and say in this sort of situation, but I can’t find the words myself. How do you talk with someone whos world right now is this fight, without bringing up the idea of death? How do you talk with someone whos world right now is unknown, without seeming aloof? How do you ignore the topic of pain and fear, without ignoring the actual pain and fear? The ironic thing is, this is my job. I am strong every single day for my patients, and especially for their loved ones. “What are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to go home and sleep tonight?” Fear and pain in their eyes. And I will nod, place a hand gently on their shoulder or back, and say, “take care of yourself. Rest assured that your loved one is where they need to be right now. In the hands of people who are watching, and caring, and going to keep them safe. Take care of yourself, so that when you come back tomorrow, you are strong for them.”

But none of that comes to my mind as we awkwardly stand outside her room. Or once we are in her room. Or even once we’d left… I don’t realize I am holding my breath. Holding it as we ride down the elevator, holding it as we drive back to the ferry, holding it as we arrive back home, the sun still shining. It isn’t until the front door closes behind us that I release my breath and with it my tension. How do I begin to make sense of this reality?