It’s been a month and a half since I’ve seen the first scared face, sweating bullets and pulling luggage behind. In the moment, I was calm. Chipper even. I spent much of my adult life training for disaster, chaos, and uncertainty. For the first time in a long time, I was in my element: emergency medical care in a crisis situation. I felt invisible and unmovable. Like a boulder in a river, confident in knowing my place. I was a 20 year old child again, without fear because of the illusion I only needed to keep myself and co-workers safe.
As the weeks wear on, this silent enemy gets closer and closer. Now I realize, it’s not just me anymore. My husband, my children, my family. The fight is now on my doorstep waiting for the moment it can reach its gnarly claws inside the threshold, and then there’s no going back. I’m a fighter, but it doesn’t matter. I can’t stop this from affecting the ones I love in some way.
At a time like this, I am thankful I created my own apocalyptic event that was not virus related. I started writing to play out this type of scenario. How would I react if shit hit the fan? How far would I go to ensure my family’s safety? Was I strong enough to face the worst outcomes? The answer was a terrifying, yes.
Many months ago, I was driving and a saying came to me: God never gives us more than you can handle. If you know anything about me, you know I’ve already handled a lot and am, for the most part, unscathed. What would “scathe” me?
Right now, this virus is a passive knowledge in my house. It is somewhere “out there” not “in here”. But the truth is, one day soon it will be in the next room where either my husband or I sleep, waiting for the worst to pass. All while the other prays to not experience the aftermath of the 4% of positive cases. 1 in 25.
So… How am I doing? Most days are great. Everyone I love is happy and healthy and I remind myself to focus on this fact. Stay present. Plan, but savor the time. No doubt, like most people, I have bad days where the weight of the changing world rests on my shoulders. Did I do enough? Can I do more? Am I not being cautious enough? Will my job come at the cost of my family? Most of which is counterfactual. What if? It’s not healthy and is a spiraling trap of paralysis.
Last week I found myself to be a full time student, a mom, a wife, the first line of defense in the ER, a therapist, a self-proclaimed statistician, a community resource, a medically trained HAZMAT expert, and a first grade teacher. Many other parents are finding themselves in precarious situations physically and financially. I have many coping mechanisms, being busy is one, planning is another. Not even disaster planning but homeschool planning, schedule and list making, meal planning, etc. Having control over things I can control help keep my mind off the things I cannot.
I am not writing like many of my peers stuck at home. While I have plenty of material from real life to feed into my next novel, I cannot let additional time behind a computer on my days off take up the precious time at home with my family.
When I am working in the ER, I turn the family switch off. What matters is the scared person walking through the door, nervous just to be there. Sheepishly admitting their fears to me, a stranger. To me, they aren’t a virus. They are a neighbor, a friend. I am not annoyed by their concerns. Deep down, my prayer is as strong as theirs: Don’t let it be that. Don’t let today be the day I convert my bedroom into an isolated sick ward.