When I saw a photo of my friend dressed head to toe in black with her face mask, plastic gloves, baseball cap and sunglasses, I laughed. Her text read “I’m ready to go shopping.” The only items missing from her attire were shoe covers and a portable bleach spray bottle. Her fridge, shelves, closets are stocked, she has a financial and home schooling plan in order and updates me with the latest COVID-19 news. She cannot sleep nights, but she is prepared for the pandemic.
I’m not laughing anymore.
Schools, community centres, libraries, fitness centres, sporting and entertainment events, tourist attractions, movie theatres, restaurants and many non-essential businesses and services are closing daily. Gatherings of 50 people or more have been suspended.
This is REAL.
Yet, I’m hopeful because I love nature and can still play with my son outside. I don’t listen or read the news incessantly. I don’t have cable and typically listen to the radio only when I’m driving. But the news is everywhere and someone will update me regardless; a friend, relative or co-worker.
The pandemic is ALIVE. I admit I live in somewhat of a “bubble world” because this is surreal to me.
The grocery stores are still open and most people aren’t wearing faces masks. There is still toilet paper, if you arrive at the right time. The cereal, pasta, rice and canned good shelves were empty last night but there are other food options available. My husband, me and my son are healthy and strong; we’ll survive should we get the virus.
Up until yesterday, I spent most afternoons at local playgrounds watching my son and his friends riding the Zipline, climbing monkey bars and riding swings. The sun was shining and children were excited for their “first week of spring break.”
Today it was announced that all playgrounds are officially closed on the North Shore.
No more play dates. This is how I realized I need to step outside of my bubble and like my friend, prepare myself and family for the long run, however long this run of “new reality” will last. I’ll still step outside for daily doses of Vitamin D during forest hikes or seawall bike rides, while social distancing myself from others in between home isolation and frequent hand-washing.
Like everyone is saying, this is a highly unusual time with global uncertainty. Friends and families are reaching out and checking in on each other on What’s App, group texts and social media. Sometimes we pick up the phone and have a live conversation or Facetime chat, usually about our Corona enemy.
When I’m outside, I see the beauty of my community with spring flowers, chirping birds in trees, the ocean, sunshine. I breathe in the fresh air, look at the sky, smile and feel grateful for my life, well-being and family. This feels real to me.
Then I pause, think of the COVID-19 madness and all the implications it has on our families, healthcare system, education, economy and stability of our future until I’m on the verge of tears and slip into a silent melancholy because this has become the new normal.
Sometimes I need my bubble world. Tomorrow is the first day of spring.
PS. Thank you every day to doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals and essential service providers who take daily risks to protect, treat, educate, feed, transport and save us.