“If you are abroad, it’s time for you to come home.” PM Justin Trudeau March 16, 2020
I went for a walk this morning with one of my best friends, and as we tramped in the early morning sun, I decided that I felt grateful that the weather was refusing to dim because my mood, our moods, and the general feeling in the air was somber and on edge. It was a weird, beautiful feeling that God/the Universe/Mother Nature/The Goddess/Allah/whomever you believe in/the meteorologist(?) was lending us this beautiful day because they knew that we would need all the help we could get to keep from full fledged pandemonium. COVID-19 is real. It’s really real, and we are social distancing and self isolating, and doing all the things that can result in depression in a person, like me, who is prone to mental health struggles. The Universe cleared the air and pulled me out of doors to remember to play the Glad Game.
After our walk, my friend left to care for her piggies, and to get the rest she would definitely need to manage her workload. She works the graveyard shift at one of the local grocery stores, and knew that today would be weird. The order would be huge, 5 times larger than a usual evening. The cleaning supplies and toilet paper, should they arrive at all, would be to replenish shelves that had never been so bare. People are scared.
I returned to my quiet home, kids and Dave still snug in their safe beds and began to work while I waited for the promised 10AM press conference, refilling my coffee twice while I waited for Trudeau to appear. I wanted reassurance. There would be none today.
The incongruity of the beautiful, brilliant blue sky against the knowledge that our borders were to be closed to all non-Canadians and permanent residents struck me. It reminded me of the last time that I was glued to the news with a similar feeling of dread – September 11, 2001. The brilliant blue sky, bright sunshine, and freshness of the air didn’t fit with the anxiety and, as one of my best friends aptly called it, a sense of doom.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared 40 minutes late to address Canadians, and he was an embodiment of the anxiety that has gripped our world over the last few weeks, and particularly the last few days. When the leader of your nation is beautiful enough to appear on Rolling Stone, it is rare to see him looking tired and rumpled, hair out of place, eyes tired, skin pale. The moment he descended the steps of his home and took his place at the podium conveniently placed on his drive, it was clear that things were worse than I had expected, known, or hoped.
There will be no train rides into the city for a while. There will be no rides anywhere at all. Work will be done at home. Even if I could convince my crummy immune system to go out in public, what would I do? There is no where to go. As of today offices are closing. Borders are closing. Bars and restaurants are closing. Casinos are closing. Museums. Airports. Theatres. Stores. Malls. Starbucks. Sporting events. Tim Horton’s. Schools. Libraries. Gyms. My yoga studio. My meditation space. My volunteer commitments are on hold. BC Ferries is allowing people to remain in their vehicles on the car decks. Universities are releasing their students to study online without the infrastructure to handle that.
It’s hard to reconcile this world and to parent responsibly in the uncertainty. It’s hard to instil caution, without tipping into panic. My kids are intuitive and can tell when things are weird or not right. How much do they need to know about the scariness? I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I need them to be aware of the world around them. The rolling of the eyes and the mamaaaaaaaaas can get me to the point that I want to shout “are you crazy???? We are not going to the damn mall to get sick just to get jello!” But somehow I think that seeing their mother absolutely lose her mind would be more upsetting than anything they would see outside.
I will continue to watch the news; to plan for the worst and hope for the best. I will continue to feel grateful that people are so easily connected now, that we can strive to avoid falling victim to the loneliness that will pull us out of our self-isolation. We can still see what is happening in the world. We can still get food. We can still talk to our best friends and our family. We can still move forward, and hopefully pull together – leaving a metre between us, in groups of no more than 50 – and save each other.