It’s been 11 months since my last post. That’s enough silence, enough thoughts and words sent out to universe and not voiced.
I’ve had nothing to say, not even on my blog. In March 2020, when we went into lockdown, COVID-19 abruptly muted my voice, tucked me into my apartment, removed the spice from my palate. I’m voluntarily sequestered, safe among my weary possessions, washing hands and sanitizing doorknobs. My clutter has clutter; cobwebs shroud my thoughts.
COVID Syndrome: long bouts confined to home overcast with isolation and withdrawal. I avoid the news. I followed it like everyone else when lockdown first started mid-March. I shed tears over the daily death reports. Today’s reporting, ever increasing rates of infection and misinformation, cause my spirit to plummet. Too many souls departed this earth. So tragic, such a loss. Pain is anesthesia if allowed in.
I don’t go out. Hardly at all. I have health considerations and care for an elderly parent. Community volunteers, “angels”, shopped for me at first. I ordered in groceries and stocked up on staples. Now, in July, I go the kosher market about every 2 to 3 weeks. Nowhere else to go other than dropping off Mom’s groceries, my car sits idle for days at a time. Taking out the trash became an exciting activity.
Long-term unemployment prepared me well for this new status. For over two years I’ve sat in front of my computer scanning job openings, sending out applications, waiting for incoming email to affirm I am wanted, desirable, and skilled enough — though I know my worth. Unemployment benefits ran dry a long time ago. Some COVID relief benefits elude me because I did not lose a job because of the pandemic. Fewer companies have openings during the lockdown. Still, I practice a tedious routine: tweak the resume, craft a cover letter, send the application, brainstorm with my job counselor. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Savings nearly depleted and no spare money to spend, I pinch pennies assiduously. Some charities provided gift cards. It feels bad to be so needy. The economy will not flourish from my paltry purchases alone.
Depression, my longstanding companion, clouds my vision, saps my strength. The toxic-to-me heat that my body cannot tolerate poisons any desire to step outside. Exercise? Not a priority though it might help. I’m complacent to drift. It’s a crummy attitude, but I’m being honest, and that’s inherent to the Syndrome. Otherwise, I don’t want to set foot outside; it’s too darned hot.
I’ve already slept through a Wednesday, seeing 6:30 on my clock and thinking, “Aw rats, up early again,” before going to the bathroom and returning to bed not realizing it was 6:30 p.m. not 6:30 a.m.! The days melt into each other. Thank G-d for Shabbos, the anchor of my week!
My data use soars. Yay internet! One bright spot: Zoom classes light my days. I’ve learned so much! Ravelry, the online knitting community, provides me with hours of creative imagery. Elsewhere politics, not science, muddies discussions and public opinion flares with condemnation, sarcasm, and impatience. Trained in public health, I share scientific information, writing opinions countering the falsehoods. Otherwise intelligent people spout such nonsense and conspiracies that I wonder if I’m living in a different universe. People believe what they want to see.
Strangely, I’m somewhat content.
“I’m the happiest depressed person I know,” I quip. It’s true. I have faith that we will get through this dreadful time, bruised but stronger. I’ve witnessed incredible acts of kindness in my community and in the world. I witness the hand of G-d in stories of recovery, marriages and births, selfless acts, and scientific discoveries. I can still laugh, say a kind word, and help a friend.
Everyone knows someone who perished or sickened. Everyone hopes and prays for release. We’re sensitized to the suffering of others in a personal way. COVID-19 brought us together out of the confines of our communities and around the world. “Together apart” is more than a motto.
I know effective treatments will be forthcoming soon, the economy will recover, and factionalism reigns whatever political party prevails. Public discord will espouse new causes. This experience is a milestone in history like none before. Global in its extent, coronavirus brought us together as a world community, erasing some borders and emphasizing our mutual humanity. At least, I hope so.
I know that I will get a job.
Living through the pandemic carves character. Living after the pandemic depends upon what we’ve absorbed about our roles in the world. Living in my own skin requires I nurture that spark of Good bequeathed to my soul.
Tenets to live by: Gratitude. Hope. Kindness. Appreciation. Respect. Health. Prayer. Breathe in the Good.
My voice may have been muted, eyes clouded, and thoughts clogged with cobwebs, but it’s transitory. I have hope for the future and faith in G-d. I will emerge from my apartment eventually, more contemplative and patient.
I will survive COVID Syndrome. I have something to say.