Dear COVID Diary: It Has Been 132 Long Days; Fear Hangs In The Air

Dear COVID Diary: It Has Been 132 Long Days; Fear Hangs In The Air July 21, 2020

Yes, Dear COVID Diary, it has been 132 long days. And I expect little change for the next 132 days. Fear hangs in the air, occasionally relieved by puffs of hope of effective vaccines on the horizon.

And I pray, morning, night, and in-between. I pray my way across the world, across our nation, across my friends and family. I read history and remember that bad things have always been a part of the human condition, and this is just one more in the endless tradition of tragedies. Living faithfully, offering good to anyone I can, becomes my daily goal.


Our COVID bag for 132 long days
Our COVID back for 132 long days

We started our voluntary stay-at-home program on March 12, 2020, 132 days ago. For seven weeks before that, I had been following the situation in China closely.

During those seven weeks, my husband had a major operation, followed by an extensive period of recovery, which we managed by going to Padre Island for the fresh air and careful beach walks.

We returned home near the end of February, him back to health ready to plunge into his business, me preparing to return to serious writing.

All was good . . . I thought and yet . . . worries nagged at my brain. We made a major shopping trip (thank goodness, stocking up on what would soon become rare paper goods), and got ready for full living again. But again, I’d been reading the news coming from China carefully.


Accurate Predictions

I predicted, long before most others, that we in the US were about to get hit with COVID-19 cases. And we were. People thought me crazy at best and an alarmist at worst when, still very early in March, I called for the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, scheduled for early May, to be canceled.

Sadly, I got that one right.

After the first week of March back in his office, my husband came to the reluctant conclusion that he, because of his age, was just too vulnerable to go back there again. I quit going out entirely except for scary, rare, and depressing trips to the grocery store.

As warnings about washing hands became more frantic, I put together a “COVID bag.” I filled it with antiseptic-soaked as well as dry washcloths, included a “dirty bag” to drop them in after use to wash again, spray hand sanitizer (once I was finally able to find some), and alcohol wipes, which I, fortunately, had on hand. When evidence indicated that we all needed to start masking, I starting keeping the bag stocked with clean masks, washing them after each use.

We never leave home without our COVID bag.

We became positively stingy in our use of toilet paper and paper towels. I cut down on the use of laundry detergent by intentionally doing larger loads. The use of dishwasher pods, however, went way up; we spent far more time cooking and cleaning up.


Meal Planning Perfected In 132 Long Days

Instead of the usual, “Hey, what’s for dinner tonight? Or do you want to go out?” we now do careful meal planning. I attached each week’s menus to the side of the refrigerator.

We plan our grocery trips with meticulous care, lists written out in the order of the store layouts to minimize time spent inside.

We utilize senior hours when we can.  Otherwise, we hit the least busy times to go. Seeking to minimize food waste, we purchase only what we need for each week and pencil in at least one left-over night a week, sometimes two.

One or two take-out meals became our biggest treats, doing what we could to both help out restaurants and giving ourselves a break. Even so, my sweet husband has become an expert at producing fabulous entrees from the newly purchased air fryer. (You should ask him for his fresh salmon filet recipe. And his crab cakes are to die for!)

We put our housecleaners on hold (but kept paying them) until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Now, we leave when they come, as I want them to be safe as well. We did the same with our dog’s daycare provider (and kept them paid) until we realized how much it was hurting his health not to get those two days of great exercise and play with other dogs.

My hair began to display the dreaded “Covid-grey” line, but I kept sending money nonetheless to my longtime friend and hairdresser. When I could no longer stand it, and after the go-ahead for salons to open, I had it all chopped off, forever ending my “hiding-my-grey-hair” years. I did join a Facebook group on “Growing Grey Gracefully.” I soon realized that my decision to chop it off was not exactly universally applauded as acceptable, so dropped from sight for the most part.


Accomplishments and sunshine therapy for 132 LONG DAYS

132 Long Days and a redone landscape
Front yard fountain; part of the 132 long days landscaping project

We’ve cleaned out the attic and garage, found a wonderful landscaper, and arranged for him and his team to redo most of the front yard and all of the back yard. I admire my orderly closets, my neatly arranged drawers, and other storage spaces.

My husband caught up on his reading; I stay almost unable to write. (There is a reason for that–and that would be my wonderful, ever-present, ever-talkative sweet husband.)

The two of us spend an hour outside daily in the sunshine. In the cooler weather, we sat in the hot tub with as high a temperature as we could manage and have a drink together. The rationale? Well, heat, alcohol, and sunshine all kill viruses. We figured we daily killed anything possible that could be dangerous in our bodies.

But mostly, we discovered how much we enjoyed it. We give the dog a special treat and the three of us savor gentle companionship together.

We’ve come far more comfortable with using FaceTime and Zoom to see family members. I invested in the pro version of Zoom to help facilitate my husband’s business meetings and also use it for family and neighborhood gatherings.

We mask without fail when we leave the house. We are shocked to discover that many choose not to. Just that one thing, with 100% adherence, would slow this whole thing down to a manageable level. Cheap, easy, effective. And people just won’t.


I worry myself sick over the state of the church. And I pray.

I read two national newspapers daily, do a daily skim of international news, keep a close eye on economic forecasts because of our business. I have endless nightmares nearly every night.

I had to witness from afar the birth of our 13th grandchild, and my arms ache to hold this precious new life. But they are in New York, and the only way I can go is to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Even then, I would be unwilling to risk carrying the possibility of an unknown viral load to that vulnerable family.

I worry myself sick over the state of the church and how these holy spaces became some of the most dangerous places to be simply because of the nature of corporate worship. Church has always been a place where people have shared space, shared breaths, shared lives. That’s its deep identity: a community of people, often radically different from one another, but united in determination to learn to love God and to love neighbor. And yet, I’ve been awed to see so much creativity emerge from these restrictions.

I ache for those who face real financial and personal devastation from the pandemic; knowing a better national response could have alleviated much of the suffering and prevented many of the deaths.

I agonize over our precious older people, so dependent upon others, suddenly finding themselves stuck in 10×10 foot rooms with no visitors and often unwittingly infected by seriously underpaid, inadequately protected, care-givers.

And I pray, morning, night, and in-between. I pray my way across the world, across our nation, across my friends and family. I read history and remember that bad things have always been a part of the human condition, and this is just one more in the endless tradition of tragedies. Living faithfully, offering good to anyone I can, becomes my daily goal.

Yes, Dear COVID Diary, it has been 132 days. I’m one of the lucky ones. So far, I’ve been able to ride this out with relatively minimal discomfort. But I know only too well all that could change in a millisecond.

Fear hangs in the air, occasionally relieved by puffs of hope of effective vaccines on the horizon.

Yes, 132 long days. And I expect little change for the next equally long 132 days.


Photo Credits: (c) Christy Thomas, July 2020, all rights reserved


Browse Our Archives