A Really Nice Prison
By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell
The joke about COVID-19—and there are many—is that family pets all around the world, got together and orchestrated the pandemic to be sure their humans would stay home with them for an indefinite period of time.
It’s a bizarre and improbable thought.
Another such thought came during a phone conversation this week with my sister, Molly. She and her husband have recently moved into a lovely CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community), where, unfortunately, COVID-19 has hit. It’s moving slowly. It started on one wing on one floor. One week later, it’s on another. Because of HIPAA, Molly and Martin have no way of knowing if it’s on their floor or their wing. About a month ago, when we went for a visit, we were asked to fill out a very short form. A week later, the form was longer. Now, no visitors are allowed. The residents are no longer permitted to eat in the dining room, and their meals are being delivered to their apartments. First, they were encouraged not to leave the premises. Now, they’re not permitted to leave their apartments. She joked to me, “I feel like we’re living in a really nice prison.” We laughed. And then we stopped.
Worldwide, every one of us is feeling pretty much the same way—a combination of uncertainty and fear. We’re feeling defenseless for ourselves and our loved ones.
The worst things that could have happened, have actually happened. Way too many are sick, way too many have died, and way too many are living in abusive situations* which only get worse in circumstances like this. Way too many have lost their livelihood and way too many are now among the homeless.
We fear for our lives, and for those of our revered essential workers—police, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, aides, orderlies, hospital housekeepers and maintenance workers, grocery store, pharmacy and gas station workers, delivery people and so many others. These people are all putting their lives on the line as they are literally keeping us alive.
And now, we are all in prison. Sadly, some are very difficult prisons to be living in. Some are actual prisons. Some are very nice prisons. And many are in prisons that might not be fancy, but are safe and clean and comfortable, with more than enough food and medicine. And yes, even toilet paper.
And the sunlight is peaking through. People are showing their goodness and kindness in countless ways, large and small, by helping those they know and love, as well as those they’ve never met.
This horrific pandemic has an unexpected facet for those of us who are fortunate. It is giving us a bit of extra time, as we shelter in place. Time to have a conversation, to read, to reflect, to cook, to bake, to binge watch TV shows and movies, and to make new friends on Facebook that we may never get to meet in person. That, happily, happened to me just the other day!
For my safety and good health, I am thanking God and the Universe every single day. I am also asking for relief for those in despair, and I’m saying a prayer that we all come out unscathed on the other side. If you’re like me, lucky enough to be living in your own clean and safe prison, you might be scared, lonely and bored, but here’s the thing. We all have just one job to do, and that is to stay where we are (if we can do so safely*), for as long as the scientists tell us to. If we do our job well, we will hopefully all come out on the other side, counting our blessings.
Happy Easter, Happy Passover–and Happy Birthday and Anniversary to those who are forced to low-key it this year.
Sending you my ❤,
PS: What are you doing to keep your sanity? Please let us know in the comments below.
PPS: Here’s one way to stay sane. If you live in South Jersey, join us on Facebook at “South Jersey Girls Who Wanna Have Fun.” If you live anywhere else, check us out at “Just for Fun! Virtual Women’s Events.” In these groups, we support each other, and we laugh. A lot.
PPPS: We’re now doing our events virtually! Check out what’s coming up!
*PPPPS: I hope you don’t need this, but if you do, please contact the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 572-SAFE (7233), 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Click here for a variety of resources for those living in New Jersey.