I had no idea as to the impact you would have at this transition point in my life. Prior to your arrival, I had already sold my house and private practice, making a conscious decision to leave my home of 41 years and to retire to a new city and state. I had done this only one other time in my life – when I moved away from my family of origin at the age of 26 to settle in an unknown city in Florida. At that time, though, I was young, newly graduated and in search of change and new beginnings.
I had been thinking about retirement for years; so when the opportunity to help care for my first grandchild was offered, I jumped at the chance. I had waited a long time to be “Nonna” and felt certain that I would have opportunities to meet people with volunteer and recreational activities available in the large, exciting city where my son had elected to grow a family. Although I recognized that the transition would be a difficult one, I knew that I could manage. After all, I would have the support of my son and his wife, a new life that I could help to develop, and the blessings of my other two adult children. Not to mention, my new home was only five hours from my old one; so the option to return to familiarity wasn’t off of the table entirely.
Then you came along, CO-VID, and imposed a whole new reality for me to navigate. Initially, you created conflict over when and how I was going to get from point A to point B. I worried whether my house would close in sale, as all businesses were slowing down or being shuttered all together. I worried whether I would be able to mobilize a truck to move me across state lines, as state officials issued orders to shelter in place. I went about packing my home – alone -as “social distancing” was emphasized and with this reality coming into play, I worried about bringing together friends to help me load the truck. Saying goodbye to my community happened virtually, because of you, as most did not want to leave their homes for fear of coming into contact with you directly. My youngest son drove to and from to move me, but I worried throughout about his safety. How best to get him back to his home, after the mission was made.
It has been a month, now, since I arrived in this new city and to a reality very different from the one that I had envisioned. Under your rule, my son is expected to work 15-hour days, 6-7 days a week. My daughter-in-law will not be going back to work in the foreseeable future, and therefore has limited need for my assistance. The opportunity to meet new people has seemingly disappeared due to the closure of all spaces that allowed for gatherings and the harsh judgments surrounding the sharing space for social interactions. Although I am healthy, I am now also considered ‘high risk’ given my age alone. The opportunity to go shopping for essentials brings with it increased risk, so even a quick trip to the store has been taken from my table…
So, there you have it, CO-VID. I am now in a new state and city with very limited supports, a lack of opportunity to interact in real time with people, and very little meaningful work (e.g. being a caregiver to my granddaughter or a volunteer to youth and animals). All of this when only one month ago, I was a valued community professional helping children and families; I had an extensive support system of friends; and a vast knowledge of local resources. I have none of that now, thanks to you!
I cannot lie. While I have always been an optimist and fiercely independent, I find myself crying whenever I allow myself to think too long of what had been my past reality and what is to be my new reality. For you see, CO-VID, there is no return to what had been for the anticipated future. Experts now tell us that reopening society will be a long process, as your nature is to linger – to stick around, while continuing to make some of us sick if we fail to maintain some form of social distance. The opportunity for new, meaningful live-interaction and for my life’s work will continue to be limited.
With all of this in mind, I am trying to open-up to new opportunities in the virtual world, but it’s particularly difficult for someone like me, who likes to connect with others in real time and in the context of community. But, I will continue to try. I take joy in visiting with my granddaughter each day. I am cultivating my health and wellness by walking daily, eating healthier, and celebrating unexpected weight-loss, which had eluded me in my past. I am engaging in positive self-talk whenever I think to, which includes thinking gratefully about all I have compared to countless others. All of this is purposeful, but hard.
CO-VID, I will not let you defeat me, but I have to admit your arrival has been one of the biggest challenges in my life to date. I can only hope, now, that for me, for those I care about, and for the sake of our collective culture, your interruption results in positive growth. But then again, I’m just a single senior-lady trying to adjust to a new and very different reality…
Female, Age 66
‘High Risk’ per ‘Old Age’, but otherwise ‘Healthy’ pending Quarantine