The Sheltering Home
Friday, May 1, 2020
Written by: Leslie Carpenter, BCHD Volunteer

At first, I didn’t treat this Coronavirus business with due respect. It seemed as if people were making a lot of fuss about a virus which was said to be less deadly than the yearly flu. The flu is no picnic, but since most of us have been through it and come out unscathed on the other side, it’s not scary. I laughed with friends at jokes about the race to buy toilet paper. Like a lemming, I too went to the store to buy more for my family, feeling silly since I didn’t really know why I should stock up. Despite large-scale events getting canceled, I still saw many people going about their business as usual.

Reality hit when schools closed. My kids were so excited about their unexpected “vacation”, an opportunity to sleep late and do what they wanted. I cringed inwardly at the idea of keeping them occupied all day. I decided to keep life as normal as possible under the circumstances, insisting they get dressed for school and keep to a schedule. I strategized that keeping busy would be our best option to stave off boredom, fear, stress and depression. It’s been a real challenge to keep everyone motivated, since there aren’t any grades, nothing is really due and pretty much everything is optional. Teachers have worked very hard to keep things going in the face of our current situation, but they have to cater to family limitations while trying to learn how to best make use of technology. We do our best to follow their lead. My kids have a new appreciation for being in a physical school where they can interact in person with their peers.

Once I understood the serious nature of this crisis, concern began to take hold. I listened attentively to daily news updates and scoured social media for assurance that we could beat this thing. Going to the store was like a “search and rescue” mission. Many retailers had empty shelves, but I sometimes found needed items in places where I wouldn’t normally look. The shelter at home instructions confused me since they kept changing, though hand-washing and physical distancing remained the constant advice I could easily grasp. My dog has become a lifeline to the outside world, giving me a good reason to leave the house twice daily. When we walk, people smile and give a cheery hello as they cross the street away from me, as if to convey that they aren’t being rude with their evasive actions. Voices from the past have emerged as friends and family stuck at home now have the time to check in on us. I congregate with others through video conference calls to assure myself that we are not in this alone and that others are experiencing many of the same issues.

I try to give purpose to each day by doing something meaningful. That might be learning something new, gathering household members for quality time together or reaching out to important social connections. Despite much protest from my kids, I am firm about regular exercise and a mostly healthy diet. I still tell toilet paper jokes and love getting funny memes from friends. It seems that we have had a spectrum of emotions about dealing with this situation; some days are more positive than others. I am amazed at the behavior I hear about out in the community. Some of it raises my eyebrows. Mostly, it seems, people are doing their best to get through their days with kindness, understanding and a sense of humor.