I, for one, am taking social distancing seriously. My husband and I haven’t had sex since the quarantine began. We’ve only hugged each other three times. A two-time cancer survivor, I’m afraid I’ll catch COVID-19. I’ve been working at home, but he’s been going in, and I think he’s afraid he’ll spread the disease. Not that he has it. We’re quite a pair. We always stand six feet apart.
This pandemic is hard on me because I have no frame of reference for it. All I know is that danger is all around me. My mother taught me about danger when I was two and a half. We lived along the Cuyahoga River, and she’d warned not to walk down by the murky water because “bums are down there, and they’ll touch your privates.” Well, those words were enough to keep me away from lecherous bums and from accidentally drowning in the Cuyahoga.
My Catholic faith taught me about life and death, with the Bible verse “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” Psalm 23:4. Yes, with the coronavirus, we are living in the valley of the shadow of death.
It is with these two tools that I am navigating COVID-19. I guess these do make up some sort of frame of reference.
So how do I keep my head during this life and death nightmare? I rely on the things that transcend danger and the valley of death.
Below is a list of some of those timeless blessings, the things that make me forget:
- Listening to the rain at night in bed
- Eating chocolate
- Talking to my best friend on the telephone
- Watching reruns of “Parks and Recreation”
- Cooking chicken for my husband and son
- Brushing my teeth
- Observing a doctor pop a blackhead on the internet
- Learning to make enchiladas and queso sauce
- Reading and critiquing my writing students’ work
- Devouring a gyro
- Opening a birthday present
This list only scratches the surface. What I really miss and what I wish would take me away is sex.
At 57, sex was just getting good. Sex was not fun for many years for many reasons. As a rape survivor, I was numb for decades. Then, came a decade of cancer and cancer treatments — surgeries, chemo and radiation. My husband was afraid to touch me. And I was afraid to be completely vulnerable.
But about a year ago, for some reason, I relaxed. I was finally used to the man I called my “spouse.” It was about time, after over 20 years of marriage.
Yes, I miss sex.
If this COVID thing goes on for years, what are we going to do?
I simply have to rely on my list of timeless activities and hope a vaccine is found soon.
- Shopping for fruit
- Taking a walk to the mailbox
- Washing my son’s golf shirts
Did I mention eating chocolate?