Waking up in a Covid World


Coronavirus. It’s still mostly dark outside, but the grey-blue light in the room betrays the suns imminent rise over the horizon. It also lets me know that I still have time to sleep. Coronavirus, though. It is immediately like a noon day sun in my brain, shining a light on all those deep, dark and scary thoughts in my head. I want to cry.

I have to go to the bathroom, anyway, so sleepily, I swing both my legs off the bed, using one to push the rest of my body off the bed into an upright position. My feet hurt when they hit the floor. My knees groan. My shoulders are stiff. Everything hurts, but my heart and head the most.

As I am using the bathroom, a cough escapes my throat. “Oh God,” I think. “Was that a dry cough? Does my throat hurt? Do my lungs hurt? Do I feel warm? Or should I be feeling especially cold? Can I taste anything? Can I smell anything? Or was it just a tickle in my throat?” There is still some logic left in my brain and it soon takes back the controls of the runaway train of thought.

I wash my hands. I wash them some more. I go to use my hand to cup some water to my mouth, but instead decide to wash my hands one more time. I let out a sigh and wander back to bed in the blue-grey morning light. Andrea is there, rolled over on her side, away from me. I crawl into bed behind her and pull her close, leaving not even enough room for a coronavirus.

My mind still races. I want to cry. I want to yell. I want to stay in bed forever. I try to fall back to sleep, but my brain locks on to empty shelves at the stores, mounting death counts, my sons cancelled 8th grade year. How did this happen? When is it going to end? How can I protect my family? There are no answers even after my brain has asked the questions 50 times a day since that Wednesday night.

My heart doesn’t race as much like it use to with these thoughts. Anxiety doesn’t spike as it had the first couple of weeks. I’ve learned to calm myself to an extent. I control my breath and try to gain control of my thoughts. Since I was a kid, when I struggled to fall asleep, I would recite prayers in my head. I have always found comfort in it.

“Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy…Coronavirus… Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Coronavirus. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but…Coronavirus…deliver us from evil. Amen….Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day…Coronavirus…our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but…Coronavirus…deliver us from evil. Amen….Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is…Corona…”

…Virus. I feel Andrea stir next to me and I slowly open my eyes. The room is lit up now, but it is another grey day outside. Coronavirus. It immediately grabs a hold of my brain again. It’s time to get up to work. I don’t want to work. If I can’t leave the house, I don’t want to leave the bed. My heart sinks in my gut as my brain tries to come to terms with this reality. It is at least a daily process and possibly an hourly process. Nothing in 46 years of life prepared me for this reality and my brain needs to process and reprocess it over and over again. Sometimes it can render this reality around me, and create a version of this world that does not scare the hell out of me, but often times it leaves a sloppy, confused render of a fictional world that is probably far more scary than the real world we are really in.

I want to take the boys up to their bus stop and make quick small talk with the bus driver as they get on. I want to drive through the Lehigh University campus on my way to work and chuckle at the slow moving college kids heading to class. I want to get caught up in the mini-traffic jam outside of Bethlehem City’s Broughal Middle School as kids cross the road, shoulder to shoulder with their friends. I want to exchange pleasantries with my coworkers as I grab a cup of water from the kitchen. I want to wander around the Wegmans to grab my lunch of greek yogurt and pineapple chunks, navigating through the lunchtime crowds. I want to rush home from work and rush the kids around the house to get them in the car to go to basketball or track or soccer or academic bowl or whatever practice…any practice. I want to rush into Giant to grab food for dinner while still trying to avoid people I know so I don’t have to talk to them and I can get home in time to make dinner.

What I wouldn’t do right now to talk to them and to not rush home. What I wouldn’t do to have someplace to rush to.

I love home. I love my wife and I love my children. I love this house and I love our dog. Usually, when I am not here, I want to be here. But…

Coronavirus. I sit up in bed. I glance at the bible on my nightstand.

I say a silent prayer for those that will die today and those that have already died. I say a silent prayer for their families and the families of those that are sick and the sick.

I say a prayer for those that take care of the sick and those that take care of the healthy…doctors, nurses, custodians, cashiers, delivery drivers, truck drivers…those that risk their health daily while I sit home and only risk getting fat.

I say a prayer for those who are getting financially ruined by this unseen enemy.

I say a prayer for our leaders and the decisions they need to make. I pray they make the right decisions.

And then I say one last, oh so selfish prayer for my family and myself, that I may find the strength to remember that my family and I do not need a prayer…not like the others do.

And then I get out of bed and face the day.

Coronavirus.

 

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