This week, my biggest nightmares have come true. To start, I have lost one of my dearest friends to stomach cancer after a mere 5-month battle. So unfair to her to have her life cut short when she was still raising her two amazing, young children, while building a new career and working hard to navigate life with her amazing husband. So unfair to us, her family and friends, for losing such a loving, attuned and insightful human being, who also made us laugh and stand by in amazement as she tried to integrate and accomplish so much all at once. And, finally, so unfair to the world, for losing a woman who cared so much about the injustices as well as the beauty all around us. It’s difficult to imagine my future days back in Seattle without her living a block away, going for a spontaneous walk together, helping each other out with our kids, feeling understood and cracking up at ourselves. I will so miss you Lis.
Ok, relative to that, maybe being locked up in my house and forced to homeschool my children aren’t quite nightmares but are challenging at best. We are on day 3 of family quarantine here in Spain and day 1 of the country’s official lockdown. Everything in our town is closed except food stores, pharmacies, gas stations and hospitals and no one is allowed on the roads for anything other than urgent matters and to walk your dog. Our two neighborhood parks are locked up with iron gates and chains and the beaches are even roped off. We are left with nothing but our empty garage-converted-workout gym and our new puppy to entertain ourselves… oh, and each other. When I mentioned how crazy it is to have all this quality time with our kids but without the ability to do anything we would normally do together, George so eloquently pointed out that we get to “be” together… the hardest thing for humans to do.
What I find most disturbing is the lack of warmth between strangers out on the streets. When I have gotten out to walk the dog and pass by others, there is almost an effort not to smile, wave or say ‘hola’ anymore, seemingly as not to invite any interaction that could put us at risk. I can’t help but associate this experience with our fine leaders of today who are modeling such an independent, “go-it-alone,” approach. We can only hope this virus does not succeed in making social distancing and disconnecting from each other the new normal.
With age, I have evolved from a being more introverted, less social person to someone who gets energy from being with others and thrives on connection. When our family has spent a quiet weekend at home, its not uncommon for my anxiety to rise from the increase in isolation. Needless to say, this quarantine is brutal for me. I am grateful, however, for living in the digital age and having an alternative way to stay connected with others and to hold each other close even if through a screen. A mixed blessing of screen time, I guess, and perhaps a chance for us, anxious screen-time parents (ASTP), to let go a little.