Chronicling the Days – Linda Thompson

Welcome to QWF series ‘Chronicling the Days’, specifically for this strange uneasy time of coronavirus and pandemic, of social distancing and self isolation, of lockdown and quarantine.

In April 2020, we invited writers in Quebec to submit a story – of a single day at this time, because while we’re all living through this time, we know that we’re not all living through it in the same way. To stay connected – to know how we’re getting on. Every story valid.

Submissions have now closed for the series but we’ll be continuing to publish the pieces throughout May. Keep an eye for them here, or join us on the QWF FB Community page, and let the authors know if their words resonated.

This piece is by Linda Thompson, writing on Monday April 13, 2020.

Photo: Creative Commons

I’ve noticed a pattern since quarantine began on March 16th for me: One day I feel hopeful and the next I crash. The weather can change that one way or another. So when I open my eyes to the sound of pelting rain, I wait for the crushing feel of despair to weigh me down. Instead, I feel acceptance settle in my bones. For today at least, I am the lamb faithfully believing that the shepherds of our collective health will lead us to better days.

I use an unexpected burst of energy to keep busy while my accountant husband, Ben, works from his home office. First I make soup, grateful for a task that keeps my hands busy. I peel, chop and cook carrots, celery and onions. I add basil and oregano, then pour chicken stock over everything. The fragrance of the herbs and vegetables that fills the house is comforting, as is knowing that the soup will nourish our bodies and our souls.

The phone rings, and when I answer my son, Erik, says, “I’m going to swing by after lunch to leave documents Ben needs for my taxes.”

I feel a jolt of happiness because for a moment, I forget. I forget that I won’t be able to hug him. I won’t be able to ask him in or even get closer than six feet away from him. I never, ever, thought I’d see the day when I couldn’t let one of my children into my home. And with that realization, my heart shatters into a million pieces.

Both my children are single and living on their own. I worry about their physical and mental health during this interminable quarantine. They tell me they are fine and I believe them. But I long to see for myself.

I tell Ben that Erik will be bringing documents. Ben is Erik’s stepfather and he is in the population considered vulnerable to COVID-19. He carries extra weight, is diabetic and has high blood pressure. I ask, “Are you comfortable with that or would you prefer I tell him not to come?” With that question, I break down. I see the same anguish on Ben’s face.

“I can’t do it,” he says. “I can’t tell him not to come.”

The burden of responsibility for our health triumphs and I call Erik. I know my son is a rational adult but logic has no place here. Emotions rule. I am so afraid he will be hurt that my voice trembles. “You know you won’t be able to come in the house, right”?

“Mom, of course I’m not coming in!” he says. “I’m quarantining too, and if somehow I was responsible for making you or Ben sick, I couldn’t live with myself.” Relief floods through me and, just like that, I am happy again. I will see my son. We will be six feet away from each other on my front porch, but I will see him. And I am grateful for that small privilege.

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