The Moments Pandemic Feels Real

It is strange how the pandemic I’m living through sometimes feels very real and threatening, but other times feels far away and not real at all. It’s also odd which things make it come into focus for me. It first felt real to me on March 12th when the NBA canceled their games, my church canceled sunday meetings, and Disney parks closed. That day was a big reality check and it was hammered home that evening when I went to the store and many of the shelves were empty. These days the store shelves are emptier than they were before, but I’ve seen things be restocked. Going to the store doesn’t make the pandemic feel real anymore. I’ve adapted to it. It used to be that looking at the numbers and graphs on various websites made the pandemic feel real, but that is fading too. Looking at numbers and graphs has started to feel like a normal, daily check in rather than panicked alert watchfulness. Today that thing that made pandemic feel real was driving past a hospital on my way to the warehouse to ship packages. There were large signs everywhere, on the sidewalk, out in the street, staked in the grass: “This way to drive-up Covid-19 testing. Pre-registrtion required.” The test station didn’t look particularly busy. They were organized and leisurely from what I could see as they drove past. That was reassuring. This hospital is a ten minute walk from my house. The pandemic is now within walking distance.

The rest of today has been normal. Our new normal, where I stay at home and use a facebook group to arrange for a neighborhood kid to mow my lawn, where I bake bread because I managed to find flour at the store, where we’ve got a Pokemon watching party in the family room while Howard and I work in our offices. I’ve managed to find some peace this last day or so. It is the peace of appreciating this quiet moment, because I get to keep it in memory no matter what comes next. Or maybe it is denial. I think sometimes we need to let the pandemic feel unreal so we can function. I also need to expect those moments when the reality of it all hits home. That is part of the new normal too.