Overnight my office was thrown into chaos. Inspections need to be stopped, mass mailings daily to over 900 providers keeping them informed of what was going on, safety precautions, lockdowns. We were broken up. Our nurses went to help at public health answering panicked calls. Our life safety inspectors were sent to the Dept of Safety, National Guard, overseeing the set up of surge locations and hotel sites being converted.
One boss was sent to the Emergency Command Center, the other working with the Commissioner to keep childcare open while mourning the loss of her own infant grandchild. Me, I am the keeper of the office, the information gathered, walking historical encyclopedia, the glue that holds it together, they call me. I was tasked with making it all work, remotely, getting information to providers, and the go-between for the rest of the staff and other agencies. We were working around the clock, and on weekends. Somedays, I didn’t even know what day it was.
While juggling this, I was dealing with the fears of my two adult sons. I could not see them, I could only be there for them thru messenger and on the phone. My parents were difficult as well. Dad was still going to work, mom and stepdad were stuck in Florida, I was worried and afraid for them constantly. Would I see any of them again? I was working long hours at home in 700 sq footage. At night I would just get in my car and drive, hours at a time, just to be out and doing something. I’d play online scrabble until 2 in the morning and then start all over again. Karate, my lifeline for so many years, was reduced to zoom classes. I was supposed to be going for a 3rd degree.
I was frustrated and angry but still tried to remain positive and keep those around me positive as well. I am an empathic person, I could feel the fear, pain, and loneliness of those around me. At times it was so overwhelming I could not cope with it. I am a caregiver and could not give comfort thru physical touch. One night I was so overcome with sadness I just sat on my bed and cried, for hours, I cried for my sons, I cried for my parents, I cried for my friends, for people alone and those dying alone.
People should never die alone.
Then I was thrown a curveball. My friend’s 18-year-old daughter was finishing high school and was a gig to be homeless. I had to take her in. In the middle of a pandemic, I became a caregiver. We had a goal to get her thru to graduation. My solitary lifestyle came to an abrupt halt. We made it thru 3 months together and graduation and she is now safely reunited with her grandmother. Having a girl, after raising 2 boys was a real eye-opener!
I began to reflect more on my life. Where am I at and where do I want to be. With the encouragement of a good friend, I started to write again. Short stories and blogs on a closed website. One night he surprised me with my own domain and a soon-to-be-open website. Nightly he would check in on me to see how my day had gone. Always a listening ear, for my overwhelmed emotional state. Bringing me calmness and peace. I realized I want much more out of life than being content. I began to make plans for the future, how I can leave work in an office, because quite frankly after 5 months at home, I don’t want that life anymore.
I am continuing to write, I am in the process of buying a house to have a place I can truly call home for me and those I love. I opted out of testing for third-degree via zoom. To me, it would not feel earned to not hit and demonstrate filling what I have worked so hard to achieve. I am ok with that. Things will come in time. I am exploring new job possibilities both on my own, with blogging and an Airbnb, and working for a company remotely. Most importantly how has the coronavirus affected me, it has taught me not to compromise my goals and beliefs, however, they may need to be modified.
Never take your life or the people in it for granted.
Hug them as if you may not see them again for a long while. And pay attention. That one person, who listens every night, checks in on you and encourages you to have the confidence to go forward out of your comfort zone, could just be the one standing beside you for the long haul. There is always something good that can come out of chaos.