My father came over and reported he was watching the news, and it had a ship with sick people who were dying, and they were not allowed off the ship. He was troubled by the illness and the idea they had lost freedom and were stuck on the boat. He also admitted he was scared. He felt this was a virus, and we had no recourse.
Days passed, and we began to learn about Covid-19. Schools closed, mandates were put on our lives, supplies were short or non-existent, my son back from Afghanistan was not allowed to visit, and my life carried on in so many ways the same.
My grandson was not on his way to homeschool via virtual school, and my job had moved from in-person on-campus therapy to fielding phone calls and reading progress notes. I was more stuck at home and focused on building my grandson’s 4th-grade education while learning a new position for the nonprofit I worked at.
With a few health issues, allergies, and aging parents, we all stuck close to home. We had a few places we went and learned to do without believing it would end soon. However, when it was reported this was/is a virus, I knew this was not going away. Our new normal would come into effect soon, and the sooner we accepted it, the better it was for my family.
That first year we did not have an Easter celebration with the whole family; each household did its own thing. This is now the tradition; it was the beginning of different Easter traditions, which is sad for a grandmother but not bad for individual families. My grandson’s Easter changed drastically when his mother was murdered right before Easter the next year. (not actually covid related, but with workplaces closed and not education, she took a bad turn)
As time passed, life started to build back into some type of normal. Masks were now a staple in our homes, cars, purses/backpacks. We kept our distance- more than 6 feet away from others- but we traveled and visited national parks, state parks, and long drives. This was a luxury we had been in the Midwest some of my friends on the West Coast did not have. My grandson’s new passion for YouTube and video vlogging became more developed and engrossed much of his time.
School for him changed forever; he thrived and was so happy with virtual schooling; he became involved with homeschool groups and made close friends; he learned more and had the time to do his work without the constraints of ‘normal’ school expectations and demands. He has never gone back to in-person school. He still is involved with others through community, homeschool groups, and family; however, his desire to enter a classroom has not emerged. He struggles with a fear of the classroom and being with so many people again. He is unsure about social anxiety but will laugh and say he has a touch of social anxiety. (the joys of being raised by a therapist)
My life changed in a way I was allowed to take time and stop. I Stopped running around, overworking, and stressing. My allergies became manageable, I was not on as much heart medication, and I began to really think about my future. I had time to think and process my needs and not just the needs of others. (again, the joy of being a therapist)
I began to focus on my house and tried to decide if I wanted to keep it or sell it. I played with the idea of traveling with everything was open again, and things settled down. I saw the increasing prices of everything and realized I needed to look to the future and make some hard decisions for finances. I had an awakening that life might be short, and I needed to make some decisions for my future. I also realized I had a grandson that I needed to add to the mix of my decisions.
Like the rest of my community, I began working on my house, fixing my yard, and planning outside activities. I also realized I did not want to stay in this house past retirement, and the ah haw moment was: ‘I can’t take care of it because of allergies and a server fall I had the winter before.’ I realized I wanted to travel and have a life that was not tied to a backyard.
I also realized I did not want to stay in my position with the non-profit. I began to look for online therapy opportunities and was surprised when I realized how much I loved it. I liked talking to people outside my state or country, and I was good at my job. I enjoyed learning about different countries with a personal approach, understanding their needs, and how our lives are similar but different.
Covid is the world, and I noticed a pattern of fear, social anxiety, uncertainty, and limited resources. I also noticed how governments were stepping in and policing each area. It was a worldwide event that was going on. Not a war but still like a war, in fact, we were fighting something we did not know, an enemy that hit the world, and our concern was not unique but similar. We were banding together to figure out our new normal.
Now, covid-19 is still around, my mother has had it 4 times, different strands, and her shots are not keeping it from her, but I hope they help to keep her from hospitalization and death? My father does not contract it from her or wherever she picked it up; he never has symptoms. I have had it once, and I was sick for longer than I wanted to be; with my many allergies, I do not have a good immune system. So, we still mask up and keep our distance, plan trips carefully with open-air events in mind, and explore the national parks and places we know are well maintained.
I will never go back into an office; I did try to open an office thinking people were ready to have in-person therapy; however, after a year, I closed the office because I did not have enough clients who wanted in-person therapy to keep it open. I still do my online therapy and have a private practice with virtual capabilities. I have set myself up for success and the ability to travel while working. This was a dream, but I would never have realized it or had the accessibility with success and freedom.
Where I felt obligated to live in a house I did like but couldn’t take care of, I now feel freedom with a sense of urgency to get out and experience life.