Something Like Grief: Moving Through Time During a Global Pandemic

I wake up in panic.

I don’t need my alarm any more, my heart beat is loud enough. 

What day is it? What time is it? I need to get ready for work. 

I’m about to pull the sheets off of me when I remember, I’m working from home. It’s a pandemic. I move closer to my husband breathing deeply until I fall back asleep.

This happens every morning. 

I am an introvert who needs to recharge my batteries after any kind of social interaction. I like to be at home in my small and warm condo, sitting on my couch as the sun bursts through the windows.

In my normal routine, before the pandemic changed everything, I would rush home each day from the office and always feel a wave of happiness and relief wash over me as soon as I opened the door. I didn’t need to have anything planned, that arrival to my own quiet space was exciting on its own.

Now, it feels different. Being home is a safety precaution. Staying home is a necessity. Working from home (if you can) is expected. I’ve been lucky enough to work from home, only leaving my house to pick up groceries. Leaving the house fills me with fear.

Less than a month ago I would get the Sunday night blues after a weekend of visiting coffee shops and spending time with family. I would dread the monotony of the workweek that stood before me.  

I would say things to myself like next week will be different. Next week you’ll apply to more jobs, you’ll write more, you’ll work on another essay. Next week you can start planning your trip to Europe and if money is tight, you can plan something else. Maybe a weekend away for your birthday. 

I would talk to myself about the future, of all the things I wanted to do and accomplish. I would remind myself that patience is key. I would remind myself that I had bills to pay and that was the priority.

Now, the Sunday night blues have turned into the daily scaries. I wake up every morning in either a panic or a fog. As if I’m hungover. Blacked out. I immediately feel on edge without knowing why. Then I remember: the virus is spreading. We are practicing social distancing. I can’t see or hug my family, my in-laws, my friends or our family dog Waffles. I remember that the new numbers will come out today. The Prime Minister will talk, the Premier will talk. Twitter will be a playground of information. 

I remember that I am afraid.

I can’t focus on my work because now, more than ever, it seems futile. I worry constantly about those I love, about the future, about the economy. Uncertainty weighs heavy on my chest, making it harder to breathe. I’m too weak to lift it off. The pressure is too much.

I’m in a perpetual state of worry and I spend a lot of time thinking about how much I miss my life. I miss being able to book a reservation at a restaurant with my husband or a couple of friends – we have a list of places we want to try.  I miss visiting my in-laws and the latest addition to our family. I miss hugging my aunt, my mother-in-law, and cousin Steven (HE GIVES THE BEST HUGS). I miss our loud and crazy gatherings. I miss the noise.

I miss dinner at my parents’ house every Saturday. Some people think it’s crazy that I visit my parents once a week but I love it. I miss my nieces. I Facetimed them last week and the eldest one is not impressed that I won’t be coming over.

“YOU SAID YOU WOULD COME OVER EVERY SATURDAY. IT’S SATURDAY SO COME OVER,” her big face screams into the camera. The youngest one seems ambivalent, maybe confused, but grabs the phone and hugs it anyway. 

I miss my Dad. I miss my Mom. I miss my sister. I miss my brother. It’s true, we’ve talked and Facetimed more times in the last few weeks than ever before but it isn’t enough. My Dad and Mom, if they read this, will say you always rush to leave our house anyway. My in-laws would agree. I never chill. I never stay long enough to enjoy myself. I rush home for no reason.

AND NOW, there aren’t enough hours in a day to spend with these people if I could. 

I’m in mourning. This is grief, or something like it. 

There are so many things I am realizing about the life I was living. I didn’t appreciate the moments I was given. I didn’t give a second thought to sharing my lunch hour with a good friend or finding new coffee shops to try out in the city or leaving my house for any number of reasons. 

I am learning so much about myself during these wild times. 

When the world gets back to whatever the new normal is, I want to stop rushing my life. My days or my weeks. I need to start appreciating things and people around me. Appreciating time. 

I will remember this fear and use it as a reminder of the version of my life that no longer exists. 

I will. 

You will. 

WE will get through this.

 

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