A couple of days ago I was at the computer when I heard a knock at the window. I looked out and saw it was my daughter, her partner, and my three month old grandson, Anteo, at the door surprising us. The three had driven up from Southern California.
Our daughter said it was time for me to meet Anteo face-to- face after daily screen encounters, watching him grow and change each day. Heading to the front door, I burst into tears of joy and welcomed them into the house.
We moved to the backyard where I was able to laugh with him, feed him, and hold him while he slept. My husband and I were in seventh heaven.
For the last three months, I have been quarantining at home. Nobody had entered our house. The only person, outside my husband, who came within three feet of me was the CT scan technician who monitors my post-chemo treatments every three months.
At that moment when Anteo appeared in the flesh, nothing else mattered.
Later, after they left and drove back to their home eight hours away by car, I was able to reflect on all my feelings. I was thrilled. But also I felt a bit guilty, a bit worried, and a bit unsure whether I had made the right decision. Yet I can say with assurance, I would do it all again.
As I reflected, I realized that this phenomenon was happening to everyone I knew. My sister-in-law invited a friend to cook with her. Some friends had their adult children come to stay with them. Another friend also could not resist when her grand-daughter flew into her arms.
My husband got an “illegal” haircut. It has been easy for us to judge each other’s choices. Now I, too, was subject to such judgments.
One shocked friend asked, “You didn’t wear a mask?”
“No, it happened so fast,” I replied.
Especially those of us in my category of “vulnerable” people are faced with many choices as the world opens up. The question we ask is, “What should I do now?”
In our different localities, the reopening phase has begun, yet amid tremendous uncertainty. Contradictory messages abound regarding effective medications, the availability of tests and beds in hospitals, whether or not you can get Covid-19 from surfaces, and more.
Reading the news each day is like a roller coaster: Covid-19 rates are going up in many places; a mysterious childhood disease linked to Covid-19 that burst into our in-boxes in mid-May then completely disappeared from the news; potentially a vaccine will be ready in September – that is, if in July they have positive results from the clinical trials.
Many school districts have not made decisions on how they will move forward because state guidelines seem impossible to follow. With all this cacophony of information, what are we to think?
After three months, many of us have finally gotten used to the new normal – leaving the house in masks, keeping distance, talking on screens, long phone calls to stay connected and for many of us, hour after hour of Zoom meetings/book clubs/graduations/religious services etc.
I have learned how to “dodge walk” around the neighborhood – a new term I invented for defensive walking to get out of the way. I know how to look around me at all times and hop into the street or onto lawns to avoid careless joggers and others zipping by on bikes, often without masks.
In this new phase, the game has changed. It seems like many people are in denial, wanting to believe it is over. Maybe others have just gotten tired of the restrictions.
This leaves us facing all kinds of decisions. Is it time to meet up with family? Do we go for a manicure? Is it time to go to the dentist – which we had avoided until now even when our teeth hurt?
Well, I can offer no guidelines. We each have to weigh our priorities, our risks, and make our own choices. My purpose for writing this is to name this new phase and acknowledge the stress it brings, especially for those in our age group.
Whenever I acknowledge or name a situation or feeling, I can make more sense of it. I feel better. I am less likely to beat myself up about it. I share these thoughts with all of you in the Sixty and Me community because just by our age, we more likely fall into that vulnerable category.
You are probably asking some of the same questions. As we move into and through this next phase, my best suggestion to you and myself is to continue to be patient, flexible, compassionate with ourselves and others, and grateful to have arrived at this moment – as uncertain as it may be.
How has it been for you?
Is your state or country getting ready to re-open social life? How does it work where you’re located? What difficulties does reopening pose? Are you ready to get back to a semblance of normalcy? What would that mean to you? Please share your thoughts with us!