March 2020 began like any other month in our mostly laid-back lives. I had handbell rehearsal on March 1. Sue went to the chiropractor on March 2. I was designing a church website. We got our taxes done on March 4. We both got haircuts.
We first heard the term “social distancing.” The corona virus news was starting to seep into our consciousness, provoking concern, but it still seemed remote. On Saturday, March 7, we attended a packed funeral at our church, with many mourners from out of town. I served wine. I was aware enough to ask Father Chuck about whether we should give instructions about “intinction,” or dipping the wafer in the chalice. But people largely followed their own preferences.
The next week, I got bloodwork and Sue had an appointment with her electrophysiologist (long story). On Tuesday I attended a meeting with Sussex Tech on the English as a Second Language class we started at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown. When we went to the $5-a-bag book sale at the Milford library on Thursday, we were wearing gloves.
That was March 12. After that, the pandemic and pandemonium broke loose in all our lives. It’s only March 28, and this has been the longest month – ever. In our peripheral vision, we notice that cherry trees and forsythia are blooming; we can smell spring. But it’s a remote backdrop, not front and center as it usually would be during our favorite season.
One by one, and then in a cascade, events were canceled. Special appearances by our handbell ensemble, The Capital Ringers. Then the entire spring season. Because we are over 60, our doctor visits were canceled. So was a periodontal laser treatment I had waited months for. The ESL classes were canceled for the semester.
The Rehoboth bookstore canceled lectures I had signed up for with Erik Larson and David Sibley. On the 16th, wanting to help, I volunteered at the Delaware Food Bank. By the next Monday, I had to cancel what I had planned would be a weekly stint.
On the 22nd, our Governor issued a stay-at-home order. I ran out to the ATM for extra cash (don’t ask me why).
On March 23, we canceled our June trip to the Canadian Maritimes. We have not been around any people, including our own family, since the second week of March. We go out only for walks and have twice hit the grocery store at 6 a.m. avoiding aisles with another cart and person in them.
We watch our life savings tank. Temporarily. We hope.
We understand we are in a privileged position. We are not suddenly unemployed, with kids home from school and climbing the walls. We have food, books, music, beer, vodka and plenty of toilet paper.
We know we are fortunate. But we are still sad for the disruption in our lives and especially in the lives of others. And we have no idea when it will end.