It’s been more than three decades since I did my own nails. While I haven’t held fast to an absolute pampering ritual of every two weeks, I generally lack the patience or skill to attempt a manicure. Meanwhile, the world will soon realize that at sixty plus, I’m not exactly a natural blonde. Imagine that. It took a pandemic to come clean with my inner secrets.
As a New Jersey lifetime resident, I’ve experienced quite a bit. I literally saw the Twin Towers smolder just days after I visited New York City. Although I lived in North Jersey during Superstorm Sandy, I went without power for weeks after it hit. When I made it down to the shore to my favorite boardwalk towns, the reality shook me. Houses were lopsided, and even an iconic roller coaster lay toppled over into the Atlantic Ocean.
After six decades of living, I will tell you that I see this worldwide pandemic from the lens of a person who hates horror movies. I would easily flip the channel or leave a big theater to avoid this surreal experience. Despite it all, I’ve searched for and found the positives.
Finding the Positives in a Pandemic
As a local reporter and editor in a social media age, I’ve witnessed plenty of things. Some are just amazing acts of kindness, starting with some local 4-H kids sending out good wishes to seniors. Meanwhile, there’s the fellow who just started his restaurant and closed it. He’s out delivering meals to first responders and medical personnel. And, the young bartender who voluntarily does food shopping for people who can’t get out on their own.
However, it’s really more personal than that as I pay attention. My older daughter and her husband set up schedules to juggle their careers and their children’s education. Will it make it a difference that my grandsons learn math the way their parents did? And, thank goodness, my daughter can do second grade Spanish.
My younger daughter recently married and finds herself a country away from her new spouse. I overhear them laughing as they watch movies together. She uses technology to monitor families that need her help in child protective services. Meanwhile, the buzz of the sewing machine resonates as she crafts homemade masks. My sister by another mother and father, sits in her home and does the same.
I worry most about my “baby sister” who turns 50 this year. She’s all alone and checks in regularly. She reluctantly canceled her plans to host Easter dinner. After all, we need to stay away from one another.
While my nails and hair take a different turn, my husband figures he’ll grow a pandemic beard. He photographs it daily to see how long it will take him to qualify as a Santa double.
It’s an unexpected time, and amidst the anxiety, it’s hard to find the goodness. But it’s there.
As a family, there have been plenty of times when we ordered food out or ate in one of the local eateries. Threats of risking sickness have kept us inside. Between the three of us in our house, we’ve rotated cooking up delicious meals.
Our dogs love that we are at home. They’ve established their own routine of training us and reassuring us that they are there when it comes to affection.
I’d like to say that I’ve taken on emptying out the garage or some spring cleaning. I got as far as reorganizing the pantry to realize that none of it really matters.
When it comes to the concept of social distancing, I’ve shocked myself into compliance. I’ve always been a person who gives cheek kisses and plenty of hugs. I’ll readily admit I never kept sanitizer in my pocketbook. It’s there now.
I’m grateful for things that have happened as a result of people having more time to do things. My loving neighbor, turned dear friend, bakes and shares. More than one caring person has reached out by text and mail to share kind thoughts. In isolation, there’s still the feeling that we’re all in this together. And, I’m loving the random phone calls.
Humor Despite Fear
My community organized a socially distanced walk around a big block. I giggled when I saw more than one friend carry yardsticks to measure off six feet. Humor makes it all pass easier. For a brief second, I wonder if dictionaries have added “social distancing” to their lists.
A pandemic is a great time to realize what’s important and what’s not. I’m among the lucky ones who haven’t experienced a lapse in income. However, I’m also not out there spending. I miss doing my part to keep the economy at its max.
In the back of my mind, I can’t decide what’s worse. I’d bet I’m not alone in thinking of my own mortality – or how horrible I would feel if I spread the disease to someone I don’t even necessarily know. Or, of the lonely last moments experienced by anyone hit hard by this disease.
While I’ve never been one to take things lightly, I try to remember that worry doesn’t change a thing. I stress about my family members who are working frontline in hospitals – comforting strangers that may soon take their last breaths. I try not to focus on their exposure to a disease that doesn’t discriminate.
For years, I’ve acknowledged that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. While this takes on new meaning, I’ll continue being grateful for things that turn out not to be so little.
If nothing else comes from the fear, my faith tells me that someone bigger than me is watching over us. I’m trying not to “sweat the small stuff,” and accept that I have no control over what will be. In the meantime, I’ve come up with a mantra of my own that focuses on kindness. One day, it’s the legacy I want to leave behind.