A friend once listened as I explained in detail something I was worrying about. The more I talked, the more dismayed he looked. Ultimately, he tapped me on the temple and asked incredulously, “What’s it like in there?” I write this story on Sunday, March 29, 2020. In Ohio, we are six days into Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order. As of tonight, the President extended his social distancing guidelines for the nation through the end of April. “Scared” is the one-word description of what it’s like inside my head. Here are the top ten thoughts.
- I’ve heard it said there is a prayer in Jewish tradition for everything including all aspects of the eating spectrum. We bless food before we eat it, and we bless the ability to give that food up into the toilet after we digest it. In this tradition, I find myself saying all sorts of prayers. After running the dishwasher, I am thankful it ran ok because the need to call a plumber seems overwhelming in the time of the coronavirus.
- I am remembering that my son used to call me not a horse whisperer but a baby whisperer. He praised the way I could calm his newborn daughter when he could not. My secret involved finding a position Avery liked, gently bouncing her in that position, while softly crooning, “Avery’s ok, and Avery’s ok. Avery’s ok, and Avery’s ok.” I sang these words in a continuous loop until Avery was indeed ok. I’m singing the “Lorie’s ok” song to myself these days. And I will be ok. As long as Avery – and the rest of my loved ones – are ok. Please God. Another thing to pray for, higher up on the list than the dishwasher.
- Perhaps I have read too many books about the Holocaust, but I seem to be in scarcity mentality wanting to waste nothing just in case it somehow comes to that. And so, I wonder, should I only have one slice of bread with my peanut butter sandwich, or is it ok to spurge with two? And then I look at that bag of dried beans, elbow mac, and rice I keep in the pantry for little grandson, Jude. He likes to pour the contents back and forth from one bowl to another. Will I have to tease those staples apart someday and cook them?
- I keep doing the math on this trying to feel safe. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said 100,000 to 200,000 Americans may die from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Earlier stories in the New York Times had more horrific numbers. So, I try to put these numbers in perspective. I checked, there are 328 million people in the United States, 11.6 million in Ohio, and 302,605 in Cincinnati. Statistically speaking, all my loved ones should be fine. Are you listening, God?
- But maybe He/She is not. There was a tornado in Jonesboro, Arkansas on Saturday, March 28th! I am horrified that this came to Jonesboro on the heels of the coronavirus! I feel toward God the way I felt toward my kids and their teenage antics of long ago – I want to shake God and ask, “What were You thinking?!”
- I have always been one to wear my mom’s earrings or my grandpa’s ring on days when I felt shaky emotionally. Now in the coronavirus era, I alternate wearing two of my dad’s cardigans as I search for a warm embrace. I can’t believe that after he died I donated all of his clothes except these two items. How could I have done that? And where is that enormous green flannel shirt that was my 6′ 4” son’s castoff? I had it for years and wore it whenever I was sick. Why did I give it away? It could be so comforting to wear it now.
- As I contemplate never throwing anything out again, I also contemplate the other side of the spectrum. Maybe I should clean out the house so that if something happens to me the kids won’t have to.
- Which leads me to wonder, will anyone even be able to touch my personal remains if I die of COVID-19? How will the closing down of a home take place when everything is germ infested?
- Which leads me to see that I can be quite the doomsday thinker. And so, I shut that thought down for now. I will not go down that rabbit hole!
- Trying to think pleasant thoughts, the song/prayer, Min Hameitzar, comes to mind. The “lyrics” are from Psalm 118: “From a narrow place, I cried out to God. God answered me with wide expanse.”
With this in mind, I close my eyes. I take several deep breaths to calm myself. When I reopen my eyes, I allow myself to see it there, the wide expanse: hope.
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