Reflecting Pool

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Not-So-Random Pandemic Thoughts

by Marsha Howland, August 4th, 2020



I have a grandniece who will turn four years old later this month.

Actually, I have two grandnieces and four grandnephews. I never see three of these children, and rarely (perhaps once a year) see two others.

So, Audrey is my lifeline to her generation. She is smart, creative, funny (she makes up her own jokes), compassionate, energetic and quite beautiful. I generally see her several times a year.

But not this year. Not with Covid-19 a palpable and frightening threat. The last time I saw Audrey – with her parents, uncle and grandparents – was at Christmas. One FaceTime call doesn’t count, partly because it was a call and mostly because she was terribly busy with some toys in the next room. (I did have a great talk with her mom.)

I miss Audrey very much. I’ve been an aunt for 49 years, and a great aunt for close to 7. I love these roles, and I think I’m good at living them. Being cut off is very sad and very frustrating.

I can only imagine what it must be like to be a grandparent in the same situation.



I’ve lived alone all my adult life, and I do this fairly well. I like my own company (and that of my cats, currently numbering two) and love certain activities that are best done without distraction – especially writing poetry. It seems reasonable that the heightened solitude would be something I could handle pretty well. True. But not true.

Being in quarantine mode was fine, at first. Groceries and other necessities were delivered to my front porch. Phone calls with friends and family kept me in touch pretty well. Virtual Sunday services were good at keeping strong my connections with the UUS:E family. Daily FaceTime calls with my partner were very  important.

After a while, those things, plus going out to the mailbox or for a brief walk without seeing anyone, weren’t enough. Like many people, I became stir crazy. I thought, for example, maybe I could put on my mask and pick something up at my local pharmacy, where we all know each other and chat on a regular basis. But no, it seemed best to continue having my items delivered. I rejected running other errands, too; I decided that I simply couldn’t risk it. I’m over 65 and have “an underlying medical condition,” so I start with two strikes against me. I’m not going to risk striking out.

In the midst of all this, my partner and I ended our relationship after very nearly two years. It’s difficult and sad. But lots of people have lots of “normal” (and in my case, unhappy) things going on during this difficult and often sad time of Covid-19. The pandemic makes hard things harder, sad things sadder. Even good things, happy things – graduations, weddings, milestone birthdays, being born days – create challenges to celebrations.

I remind myself of the people who are sick with the virus, who die of the virus. I think of them being alone, of their families and friends not being able to visit them. And then I remember that, all in all, I’m doing OK. If I continue to be very careful, I’ll get through this OK.

And if I’m very strict about quarantining myself for the next two or three weeks, I might just be able to visit Audrey. From six feet away.


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