Saturday, April 25, 2020

7 Stages of Life in a Pandemic

In a nutshell, here's how the last six weeks have gone for me: 

1. Denial
Everyone is overreacting! Who cares about a virus? Hang out with like-minded friends and commiserate about how the country has gone insane. Visit the library and check out a ridiculous amount of books, "just in case" the unthinkable happens and the system closes down. 

2. Shock
Maybe I should look into this whole virus-pandemic issue, at the very least so I can know what's closed and what's still open to the public. As the reports, articles, and Angry Facebook Posts start splashing across the screen, things suddenly become very real. When the public library closes and the archbishop announces the suspension of public Masses, you know that Something is Very Wrong. 

3. Sadness
Overwhelmed by everything, you plunge into a deep sadness. You may even break down into tears as you try to comprehend life in the foreseeable future. You decide that, since the most important things are closed or cancelled, there's no reason to even check the internet any more for updates (plus, the internet is making you too depressed). 

4. Numbness
The state has closed down, it's pouring rain outside, and you have two young children to occupy. So, you fall apart. The stress of the world is just too much, and you get a pretty bad cold and even though it's not a terrible sickness, you can't function. You sit on the couch or lie in bed while your children run and throw toys and do who-knows-what-else, but you don't even care. 

5. Escapism
Everyone is talking about Living Your Best Quarantine Life, so you decide that instead of doing nothing, you should do something, too. You decide to escape into the glamorous world of 1920s Australia by binge-watching a murder mystery as you ignore the problems of the current situation and cope with not having any more library books to read. 

6. Acceptance
You realize that this pandemic thing will be here for a bit, and you decide to come to terms with that. Looking for the blessings of each day, you are grateful for the gifts God is sending in the midst of this crazy time, and you keep thanking God for good weather (and ask Him to keep sending good weather) as you spend hours outside each day. You may not be churning out masterpieces or learning a new artistic skill, but at least you're handling this situation like a semi-rational person. 

7. Determination
You decide that simply accepting the chaos isn't enough, and you need to actually do something awesome so that you can look back on this pandemic with some amount of delight. You decide that perhaps e-books aren't as evil as you thought, and you are delighted to discover that many epic titles-which have long been on your TBR list-are available on Hoopla. The weather continues to be awesome, and you take the kids to walk a couple miles each day. You even make the three-year-old take his nap on the porch one day. You reconnect with your neighbors as you stand in your respective yards. You start waking up early on some days so that you can pick up that long-neglected creative writing project. YOU GOT THIS. 
In all honesty, we have it really good over here, for which I am grateful. My husband's work has barely been affected, we've all been mostly healthy, and we haven't had a challenge getting food (we did have to buy more expensive flour and beef one time, but at least we have food!). Oklahoma hasn't really been hit hard with Covid-19 compared to some places, and we can still go outside (we even went to a new-to-us park!) and go to Confession at church. I haven't been very concerned for our family; my main concern has been that we'll unknowingly get other people sick, particularly our elderly friends.
We love pupusas around here, but I don't love standing at the hot stove for a lengthy
time, cooking them in the skillet-so I recently decided to pop them in the oven!
It's not authentic at all (and they cracked open) but 15 minutes on each side,
in a 375 degree oven, works decently well and is so much simpler!
Our life has altered drastically, and yet not that much has changed. We're fairly simple people and typically don't have a packed schedule, so the rhythm of our daily life has stayed consistent: reading lots of books, spending lots of time in prayer and games as a family, and spending loads of time in our neighborhood-at our park, taking walks, and in our yard. I still do our grocery shopping once a week, I just don't bring the kids with me anymore (and it still somehow takes me a full hour to shop and bring the groceries home, which is puzzling me).

At the same time, everything has shifted. In pre-pandemic life, in a typical week, we spent 4-6 hours at the local library, 7ish hours at church (this includes travel time), and at least a couple hours having coffee at our neighbors' house. But now, we can't do any of these things. It's nice that life has slowed down (and I am finding that I like slow mornings), but at the same time, we really miss attending Mass and seeing our priests and fellow parishioners. We really miss visiting the library, talking with our librarians, and checking out new books. We really miss sitting down and simply enjoying the quiet of being with our elderly neighbors as we sip coffee. We really miss visiting family and friends.

I am grateful, so grateful, for all of the blessings. I am grateful that I have my husband and children to live through this with (I cannot imagine how awful it would be to live alone right now). I am grateful that this pandemic will not last forever (and indeed, it has only affected our state for just over a month, which doesn't seem like a terribly long time in the "big picture" of history), and I am ESPECIALLY grateful that I'm not a government official who has to make decisions right now. Yesterday, "Phase One" of Oklahoma's reopen launched, and supposedly, if all goes well, the beginning of May will signal the next part of this phase. While I've mostly tried to stay away from the hubbub of the internet, I have noticed that reactions to official statements regarding this process are all over the place. I imagine it must be stressful for officials as they try to balance public health concerns, statistics, the economy, and, well, everything. It's definitely a good time to pray for our government and church leaders!
I hope that you all are having a blessed Easter season, a beautiful week, and that you are staying sane!  
I made it to the halfway point of pregnancy!
Pregnancy continues to be uneventful, although I've hit the
unfortunate point where even a small workout
means that I'll barely be able to walk the next day.


  1. I relate to so much of this. Though throwing a newborn in has made it interesting. My rural county is one of the top virus hotspots in the country thanks to an outbreak in our prison that is seeping into the community. I’m nervous for my husband to even go to the grocery store right now. It feels like life will never be normal again.

  2. I relate to all the stages. It's good to read your writing again, AnneMarie! There has been much that is sad and heavy over here, as well, but I am so very grateful to be quarantined in with my boys and Angel--this would be a very tough time indeed to not have family and little ones to brighten every day.