Isolation: Week Two

You know it, I know it: I was never going to last long at daily blogging. But maybe I can do weekly entries about our lives during this time of coronavirus isolation? It’s clear now, anyway, that we should be measuring this pandemic in weeks, even months – not days.

That first week, the one I already blogged about, felt like a week for shock. Shock at what we were beginning, shock at how swiftly our lives had changed, a million little shocks to the system as we tried to adjust to our new reality.

Last week, Week Two, was for me a week of mourning. It was slow, low, gloomy, and gray.

I mourned over the deaths I was hearing about in the news, the job losses, the families separated by illness and worry. I mourned over the smaller things that feel huge to those experiencing them: high school seniors unable to experience the proms and games and graduations they’d been working toward, college seniors unsure whether they’ll ever see their classmates again, new parents unable to share their tiny babies with the grandparents and aunts and friends who love them.

I couldn’t focus much on home or schooling or writing. I seemed to trip over myself and everyone around me. I wanted to be alone and I wanted to scoop up my children to hold them close. All at once.

Wednesday and Thursday evenings, I took my boys for walks. The older two went with me one night, the youngest the other.

The first evening was gloomy and misty. We snuck out while Brennan made dinner and gave the three littles a bath. (Winner = Julie.) It was the first time the boys had been away from our property in twelve days. Walking along a hilly path, the nine-year-old spun in a circle and said, “I feel so free!”

We walked past each of the boys’ schools and the eight-year-old got to peek into his classroom window. He felt strange, looking into it after so long. I felt strange, watching my son look into the window of a classroom he’s not allowed to enter.

Thursday evening was a little brighter, lit up gold in the sunset. My littlest guy smiled broadly, looking around him in excitement. I peeked into windows as we walked neighborhood streets, wondering what those homes are like right now, with their inhabitants stuck inside just as we are.

Everything was so quiet in town: the schools, the sports fields, the walking paths, the streets. We hardly saw any cars on our walks, let alone pedestrians. It was hard to process just how empty and strange things felt.

By the end of the week, it was clear that our two-week period of no school would be extended significantly. We learned that the kids would be home at least another four weeks. We understood that they might not go back at all.

Over the weekend my husband finished a project he’s been working on for some time: building the two big boys a bunkbed. He got it all set up for them – a big, solid, hulking thing made possible by months of hard work. Hours upon hours of thinking and planning, sawing and sanding, priming and painting. The boys were thrilled, climbing up and down the ladder, arranging their favorite stuffed animals just the way they liked.

It felt like something of an antidote to the week. Here, before us, was the fruit of all that hard work, all that time, all that mess. We’d come to the other side of a project that had monopolized our garage and our foyer and Daddy’s attention.

It’s nice to see a result when you’re sunk in the drudgery of process. It’s nice to be reminded that things pass, that stages can be finite. And it’s nice to see something built up at home when you know you’re not going anywhere else for a good, long while.

(To report on the little things too: We kept up with our bare-minimum homework routine and missed several days of online daily Mass. Things will have to pick up next week when remote learning begins!)

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