The Gift of Sheltered-In-Place
Sheltering-in-place is now a term everyone knows. I don’t even remember the date that I first started hearing about COVID-19. I know it was the first part of March. My son and daughter-in-law were due to visit us the weekend of March 6. A few days before they were to arrive, my son called to say it would be only him. His wife had been fighting a cold or the flu for several weeks, and she didn’t want to get on a plane with this unknown virus that was going around. There was talk about people staying away from large groups at this time. My son came alone, and we had wonderful weekend celebrating my husband’s birthday, hiking the mountain by our home, and just spending some quality time with my second born child. He went home on Monday, and by the next week the news was telling people who were over 65 or had immune deficiencies or underlying illnesses to stay home, don’t go anywhere, stay at home. Don’t go into crowds.
By mid March we were uncomfortable being around people. We went to the accountant’s office for our taxes. There was hand sanitizer out, and we did not shake hands, but we did sit in the office and talk. From there we left and went shopping at Crate and Barrel. People were still out shopping, but wary of what to do. Basically, we were told to wash our hands and don’t touch our face. (I was good with the first part, not so good on the second). We ended the evening going out to dinner, and noticed that there was some cleaning measures that were being taken that were different from a normal day. The restaurant did not have salt and pepper shakers on the table. The waitress said that they were available if requested, but they sanitized everything between customers. It was such an odd feeling.
After that day, we decided to stay home. Then the announcement came out that we all should avoid large crowds, and the next thing you knew, the churches closed their doors. The kids in Arizona were on spring break, but the governor closed the schools, and the kids did not go back. At that time, it was only for 2 weeks. Now they are closed until the start of school in August/September.
Being retired, staying home isn’t a big deal. I cannot imagine how it would feel if my life was still getting up early five days a week to get dressed, commute to work, and put my eight hours in, and then all of a sudden, I’m working at home, or not working at all.
There are so many thoughts that go through my head of how people are feeling. At first, it was just out and out fright. We are already afraid of the unknown, but an invisible enemy—a virus—was going to destroy our lives—how much more frightening can that be?
Over these weeks, we have ventured out to the grocery stores. We have gone on walks in the neighborhood, and hiked on the mountain trails. I don’t feel confined, except that I cannot be in personal contact with friends and family. That feels really odd to me. We also have another new term—social distancing. Stay apart, wear you face mask, don’t touch anything. I am surprised to see how few people actually are wearing face masks when shopping. Because my husband and I are in our 70’s, we wear them—better safe than sorry.
As I look back on these weeks, and the daily news conferences statewide and nationally, I just want to shake my head. Why do people have to make this political? We are in a battle to save lives all over the world, and people are demanding to know when did our leaders really know, why didn’t they act faster, on, and on and on. I really don’t care. I am not in their shoes. This is new for everyone, and I have seen leaders on both sides get it wrong and get it right. Let’s just work together and find a way to get us back to work, and back to a new normal.
I think we forget to be grateful during this time. Almost everyone, at least everyone that I personally know, has a nice shelter over their heads to be stuck in for a while. We have technology that keep us connected. Some people can actually work from home because of this technology. We can call, text, or use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and other platforms to visit and see the people we care about. Had this pandemic happened 20 years ago, we would have really felt isolated, but technology has us connected in so many ways.
Do you know what I like about this sheltering-in? I used to get up and spend my day at home, being sure I was dressed, hair done, make up on, just in case someone knocked on the door. Ha! No one is knocking on my door—I can stay in my pajamas all day, if I desire, and I don’t have to feel a bit guilty about it!
I get to clean the house because I want to clean the house—not because someone is coming over, and yes, cleaning has been set aside longer than it should have been. It was just a bit freeing to not feel like I had to do housework.
I did a lot of stuff the last three weeks. I made a quilt top. It’s ready to go to someone to quilt—if I can figure out who that can be. I have done some baking. I have done a ton of cooking. I think we have had meals from the drive-through twice, and it just doesn’t feel right. We play Mexican Train Dominos. I have a jigsaw puzzle that is the hardest puzzle I have ever attempted. I get small sections done each day. My goal is to complete it before we leave for Missouri or told we can go out in public—whichever comes first.
We watch television in the evening. I try not to do that during the day, but I could. While sheltered-in-place, my life is my own. I can pretty much do anything I want or not do anything at all. This time is really a gift.
I don’t want to lessen the seriousness of this pandemic. There have been many people severely sick, people who have lost their lives, and grieving families who cannot get together to comfort each other. There are people who are not working or earning any money, but the bills are still there. There are people who live alone, and this time can be extremely lonely. My heart aches for all of them. This is not an easy time.
I just want us all to stop, just for a moment. Close our eyes, and take a deep breath. Then think of all the things to be grateful for. Families are having dinners together again. They are playing games, playing or listening to music. Make this time a gift. Do the things you always wished you had time to do when you are home. Call a friend, hug you kids, or your dog, or your cat (if it will let you). We have been running a rat race for so long—and now we get the gift to stop, reflect, and rejoice.
Reflect on what you want your life to be. What a great opportunity to plan, to execute a bigger life. A life of more love? A life of reflection? A life of serving? There is so much we can do as we are sheltered-in-place.
We will not be sheltered-in-place for much longer—maybe it’s time to relax and appreciate the time. Thank God that we have a shelter to be in. We will get through this, and we will be better and stronger, Move forward in gratitude.