Let’s talk about distancing and isolation, invincibility and arrogance. For several months, I’ve engaged in social distancing to a degree because of my cancer diagnosis and treatment. More recently, the degree has become more well-defined. Now, I isolate as much as possible. That means that I stay in my home or, when I need exercise, I walk Atlas in my yard. If I get really stir crazy, I get in my car and go for a short drive just to see the sights. I’m truly blessed as I have a full freezer and pantry, and friends who are willing to pick up perishable goods for me – and who sanitize them before dropping them off on my doorstep.
In short, I do all I can to ensure that I am not exposed to this novel corona virus (COVID19). I recognize, though that even with all these precautions, I’m still at risk for exposure. I go to the hospital, where germs abound. I stop by the office, assuring myself that no one has been sitting at my desk or has been in my space. I’m engaging in some arrogance and invincibility there, because I know full well that folks have been in my office. I’m just praying they aren’t carriers.
That’s an invincibility crap-shoot. I am of the age where I’m not quite ready to accept that I am an “elder” despite my grey hair and slowing movements. My personal arrogance shines through here. I am not unlike the youngsters we all gasped about who were crowding beaches on their spring break just at the onset of this awful virus. I ‘sneak’ and tell myself that I’ll be okay. That although I’m not really healthy, I’m young and I’ve fought off infections and diseases before. In other words, I still want to believe that I’m as invincible as my college-age counterparts. I mean, I’m going to college after all, right? So that quick trip to the office is okay, right?
My daughter, who is 28, works at Splendora Gelato. The owner is keeping the store open so she can continue earning an income that would be better than unemployment. She cannot see me, we cannot hug, because she believes that she comes into contact with at least one person each day who is infected, despite her efforts at disinfecting the store and herself. She cares more for my well-being than I do when I engage in sneaking. She cares more about my well-being than her own! I need to honor that love by caring more for my well-being.
It really doesn’t matter what age you are with COVID19. It really doesn’t matter if you have underlying conditions; we’re learning that even young people without underlying conditions are getting horribly ill. It’s hard, this new way of living. It’s kind of scary, anxiety- and depression-producing. But it’s a whole hell of a lot less scary than dying, or watching someone die, and not being able to have loved ones nearby to comfort you.
So, before you ‘sneak’ and go out to a store, to visit family, to help someone, ask yourself these questions:
Is this trip worth dying for?
Is this trip worth watching someone I care about die?
Is this trip worth knowing that I am helping to continue the spread of this disease instead of flattening the curve and giving scientists time to develop a vaccine?
Is this trip honoring a loved one who is going to extremes to avoid contaminating me?
Am I really invincible? Are my loved ones invincible?
The answer to all these questions should be a resounding NO.
It is difficult, but now is the time when we MUST briefly give up our autonomy and our independence for the greater good. So, stay home, don’t sneak or cheat. If you MUST go out, wear your mask, maintain a minimum of six feet between you and the next person, wear hand coverings of some sort and remove them as soon as you arrive home. Don’t walk into stores or areas that appear crowded no matter how important you think your visit is – find alternatives. This is an unusual time for most of us; we get to choose how long it lasts. Stay home. Be kind to those who MUST be out – our essential employees – when you do have contact with them.
By: Gina Leah