We are apparently approaching the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, and we are being tested. Not necessarily for the virus itself, but in other ways.
This is testing our patience, our resolve, even our sanity. Don’t be ashamed to admit you have been depressed. My gosh, we’re wearing safety masks in public. Who saw that coming? One friend told me that she is so bored, her idea of a good time is ironing. As for me, I haven’t worn regular shoes in a month.
We know our colleagues are struggling, and we can’t give them a pat on the back.
We hear about friends who have lost their jobs, and we can’t give them a hug.
We learn that longtime acquaintances or relatives have passed away, and we can’t attend visitations to offer our condolences, face to face.
Television offers us an escape, along with our streaming devices. We watch shows and movies to get our minds off current events. For a few hours, it works.
But in an effort to stay informed, we turn on the news. And then reporters (myself included) splash cold water in your face with sad numbers. Each number represents a real person, and a family grieving a tragic loss.
We venture outside, but for your safety and mine, we can’t be close. We look for smiles where we can, but they’re becoming less frequent. Is that person smiling behind the mask? Probably not. We would love to strike up a conversation with that older person. He looks lonely. But we cannot get close enough. Is he sick? Am I sick? Neither of us know for sure. Would I have spoken to him a month ago, before our lives changed? I struggle to answer that. Will I speak to him months from now, when it will be safe to do so? If not, shame on me.
If nothing else, a crisis like this should be teaching us all some important life lessons. We had it made, didn’t we? We did what we wanted to do, and went wherever we wanted without a care in the world. Of course, we took it for granted. Life was an open-ended buffet, and we stuffed ourselves with no regrets and no apologies.
How quickly it all changed. It was only a month ago. Our jobs were so boring. Now, many of us would appreciate any job.
Kids were openly hoping for a snow day, a flooding day, or whatever would get them out of school. Now they miss their friends, and even their teachers. Suddenly, nothing would make them happier than the exact opposite of my “schools are closed” announcement. I expect to hear deafening cheers when I can finally say, “Schools are open again!”
For some of us, church had become routine. It’s Sunday morning, here we go again. Get dressed up, see the same people, and hear the same pastor. None of us imagined the void in our lives today. Yes, we can still worship online. After all, our faith resides in our hearts and minds, and church is just a building, right? We say that a lot, but it’s not the same. We miss the smiles, the handshakes, and the hugs.
We would often put off a visit to the hospital, or the nursing home. We had more enjoyable activities at our disposal, so we put off those visits until tomorrow, or next week. Now, our already neglected loved ones are more isolated than ever, and we are helpless to do anything about it.
We must keep telling ourselves, this is temporary. We have been taught that things happen for a reason. It is part of God’s plan.
If this is God’s way of telling us that we had become complacent, smug, and selfish, we should listen and learn. After the Depression, we became less wasteful. After World War II, we became more appreciative of our freedom, and more aware of our potential. After 9/11, we became more patriotic and united as a nation, at least for a while. When this crisis passes, which it will, we will be better people. We will be more thankful for the everyday joys of life. Our friendships, our closeness, and our social opportunities.
We were not raised to be isolated and quarantined. This is not in our DNA.
The human touch is a powerful sense, and it can never be replaced or replicated by any app, website, or screen. Yes, thanks to the wonderful innovations in recent technology, I can see you, and you can see me. We can read each other’s words, and we can hear each other’s voices.
But now, more than ever, we are learning that is not enough. I keep repeating it over and over: Staying apart will help keep us together. And when we’re together again, what a joyous day that will be.