Social Distancing Week 4…And Real Life

Friday, April 10, 2020…3:50pm

The end of week 4.

As I am writing this, the stay at home order in Los Angeles County has just been extended through May 15th. That means we are in this liminal space for at least another 5 weeks.

This was technically Spring Break for the kids. We hadn’t made any definitive plans for the week before the safer at home orders went into effect, so on the bright side that means we weren’t all sitting at home this week upset that a week of fun had been cancelled. We were just at home and the kids didn’t have school work.

What we did have was ridiculous amounts of rain – so homebound really was reduced to being inside the house. And with the rain came a trickle of cancellations that are only the beginning of what I am certain will be several weeks worth of disappointment over lost opportunities. The announced cancellations this week included the kids’ Model UN Conference, an orthodontist appointment where the girl would have had her final wires placed to start the count down to being braces-free, and the man-child’s 8th grade dance.

It was a week where I heard several colleagues and loved ones say they struggled more in recent days than they had in the preceding weeks. That’s a sentiment which rings true for me as well. I’ve spent a ton of time trying to figure out why these past few days have been harder. Part of it is certainly the built up emotional and mental toll of living/parenting/partnering/working all in one physical space. But part of it – for me at least – is the the layering of real life pre-pandemic with the weirdness of life during the pandemic.

Over and over again this week, I have been struck by the fact that real life keeps happening in ways that have nothing to do with COVID-19.

In my house real life includes –  me living with the sometimes physically exhausting effects of fibromyalgia;  my husband in the midst of ongoing treatments for hemochromatosis and also living with increased pain and decreased mobility as a result of the blood disorder;  my man-child living with level 1 ASD, generalized anxiety disorder and depression; my girl having all the truly big and truly real emotions of a teenager finding her place in the world; and let’s not forget our blind and diabetic dog. There were days pre-pandemic where we were barely holding it together. Layer on the added stress and anxiety of the current global situation and it’s no wonder all I really want to do most days is sleep.

Real life keeps happening.

And it’s not just the four of us. Real life is also my cousin who in the course of the world shutting down has been diagnosed with cancer and begun treatment. Real life is the woman from church who lost her sweet dog  today to illness and age – a dog who has been her faithful companion for 14 years. Real life is the handful of loved ones who are living with “non-emergent” health conditions that cannot get treatment right now as medical resources are stretched thin. Real life is the annoyance of weather we can’t control. Real life continues to march on – even while we are living in this strange and altered space.

I’ve seen dozens of posts on social media of friends and acquaintances who appear to be living some sort of COVID-19 “best life” – themed family dinners, daily DIY projects, renewed or brand new hobbies, etc. Clearly, we can never know what is going on in any home other than our own. I hope that these posts are an accurate depiction of quarantine life for other people. I really, truly do. But that is not our reality –  it wasn’t in the days before March 19th, so it would be unrealistic to think it would be now.

This week has been the hardest one yet for me because I was tired and fighting hard before, and none of the reasons for the fight magically disappeared when the world shut down. Truth is, some of the reasons I fight have been amplified by the world shutting down. Real life keeps on keeping on.

But even in the midst of this hardest week, there were glimmers of some better days possible on the horizon. I heard my kids laugh together this week in a way that they haven’t in ages and in that laughter I heard both joy and a whisper of possibility. Real life is sometimes excruciating, but it can also be exquisite. Real life is also circumstantial, personal, and fluid. The days ahead probably won’t be filled with “at home adventures” or new experiences, but they will be filled with love and a commitment to grace for each other because those are core values for our family in real life.

Be well my friends.

Real life can include cancer diagnoses for loved ones. My cousin may be forced to attend all of her chemotherapy and doctor appointments on her own because of increased precautions at the hospital, but our extended family made sure she knows she is not alone. Several of us have temporary tattoos of an ampersand as a reminder that there will be more to her story and that we are all with her in spirit. Real life has more for all of us…

3 Thoughts

  1. Thanks for this Dena. As usual, I am so impressed with your blog!

    Just so you know you are not alone, I thought this week was harder too, and I have it about as good as it gets, being retired with grown kids. I think there is an initial resilience – “We can do this. I am not going to let this get me down.” And then it continues on, and on, and on. It’s the not knowing when we are going to be able to have coffee with a friend again, go out to dinner again, attend a concert again, that gets me crazy if I spend too much time thinking about it. I am finding one day at a time living is so crucial. For today, I enjoyed the flowers in my yard, the animals who are our companions, reading a good book, etc.

    I think you are doing a great job of looking at things realistically and for the most part positively, not sugarcoating what is real. Most people posting all the fun stuff on facebook aren’t telling you about the moments where they lie awake and night and wonder how long they can keep doing this. I am praying for you and your family. I think you are all amazing!




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