What day is it? Does it matter?
It doesn’t matter. We are in lockdown…..for the foreseeable future.
I think that I have been moving through the seven stages of pandemic-lockdown grief.
SHOCK (and I don’t mean Chaka Khan)
First there was a kind of shock. We would read the news about China and then Italy and think, why are people so worked up about this? More people have died from the flu. This seems like an extreme reaction.
We continued life as usual, had friends over, did our daily life thing. We had friends over for dinner, and a friend from Italy said people were actively avoiding her every time she spoke Italian (e.g., talking on her cell phone on the metro). Our other friend, who is Belgian, said she was coughing on the bus and a father with children practically accosted her, yelling at her that she was infecting his children, etc. etc.
We joked, laughing about allergies and the insanity of the situation. Little did we know the madness that was soon to follow.
DENIAL (and I don’t mean the river in Egypt)
The next stage is denial. I am not sure we were ever in denial about going in lockdown. I think it was more of an initial question of how much to lock down. It became clear pretty quickly that Belgium was taking the lockdown seriously, and we were ready to comply.
It took a little while to appreciate the full reality of the lockdown in terms of what it would mean for our individual lives and reality. We had been planning to return to the United States at the end of May. First we thought, Oh, there’s plenty of time until the end of May. For sure we will still be able to move.
Then came the US president’s travel ban and call for US Americans overseas to return home. Then warnings that if US citizens overseas did not make immediate plans to return home, they should make plans to stay overseas for an indefinite period of time. With our animals and belongings to ship and all of the complicated logistics of moving in a “normal” time, it became clear that our jokes about not being able to return within our original timeframe actually were proving to be true.
ANGER, BARGAINING, TESTING (1-2-3)
I think I skipped the Anger, Bargaining, and Testing phases in exchange for Depression and Acceptance, which seem to dance back and forth in order of experience and sometimes dance together at the same time in a lovely duet tango.
We are in it. In lockdown. I am continuing to try to do the things that help me stay “sane” (well, as sane as I ever was), which involve singing every afternoon for a virtual audience, cleaning and tidying the house, going for daily walks in the forest with dog, trying to shift the voice of my inner critic to one of appreciation for all that I am instead of all I could be.
Until tomorrow, dear friends. Or the next day. They are all the same, right?
One note of gratitude that we are healthy and get to experience each new day, which is hopeful in and of itself.
Good night, and good luck.