While this pandemic continues to plague our daily routines and change the way our lives look, it also has presented a chance to appreciate all those things we took for granted, or at least the things I took for granted before this tsunami hit. As I sit tight at home with my family, and we are on day nine, I have had a revelation of the things I will look forward to once life returns to normal.
Going out to dinner. Going to the movies. Dinner and cocktail parties with friends. Beach vacations. Booking a flight without fear of getting sick.
Kids going back to school. Not working from home. Weddings. Graduations. Getting my hair and nails done. Shopping in the mall.
And life will return to normal. As difficult as this is and as devastating as this has been for those who have gotten sick and even lost friends and loved ones, it has been a chance to reevaluate our priorities and redefine what is important in our lives. As we’ve seen in other countries, people gather on balconies and belt out songs, just to encourage hope. Families are spending more time together and learning how to cope with isolation and an abundance of togetherness.
We have to exercise more patience, find creative ways to stay busy, commit to being kind to one another, take breaks when we need them, focus on something positive each day, reach out to friends and family through virtual connections and simply keep on keeping on. We can do this.
But a different side of this pandemic has made me aware of something else. I will miss certain things when this ends. Even over the past several days I have noticed a new routine that has brought me joy and a new sense of purpose. And the truth is I will be sad when it is over. Of course I won’t miss the threat this pandemic carries with it, but I will miss the new routine in my life that has allowed for rediscovered fulfillment.
My grown daughters are 26 and 24 with exciting careers and busy lives of their own. Although they live within driving distance of our home, my husband and I are fortunate to see them a few times a month. My oldest lives with her significant other, whom we adore, and we enjoy spending time with them but they are busy and living their own lives. My youngest has a demanding job and is not easy to pin down.
My husband works at home normally but is often at breakfast and lunch meetings, leaving me to my own routine. I have been a stay at home mom, and once my kids flew the nest, working on creating my next chapter of life. I write, read voraciously, ride horses, play tennis, hike with my dogs and picked up golf. All of this has come to a screeching halt.
Now we are all under stay-at-home orders so we met at our home in Breckenridge to wait out the crisis. All five of us are preparing and eating three meals a day, walking the dog, finding ways to stay busy. We have never spent this much time together since the girls lived at home. And here’s what I’ve learned.
I enjoy cooking and planning meals because I know everyone will be home to eat them.
I like seeing my youngest daughter work remotely in the office here and have learned how her job is demanding and interesting and how much she is valued by her team.
I have spent every day with my oldest, a school behavior therapist, walking the neighborhood, taking online exercise classes, learning about her job responsibilities (currently on hold because of the school closures) and sharing the grocery shopping and cooking responsibilities.
I like the routine of being together in the mornings, then taking the afternoons for quiet pursuits. I write, my daughter works on her online class, one is working in the office, one is taking phone meetings in an upstairs bedroom, and one is job hunting, a sadly daunting task at the moment.
These seemingly simple pleasures have revealed a new dynamic of sorts, one that imitates what life would look like if we lived in a culture where families lived together well into adulthood. Although I enjoy this time, the complete absence of face-to-face commerce and socializing has indeed left a gap and challenged all of us to stay stimulated in this home environment and contain our occasional grumpiness.
I am glad to be part of a group of people trying to do what is right. We share ideas, talk policy, share opinions and make jokes. We also get annoyed with each other, feel angry at times and miss our individual homes and routines. We are all in this together and despite the stress and horrible circumstances that brought us here, I am glad to have this time.
Perhaps the most important aspect to take away from this is just that. Time. Whether we like it or not, the world has required a hard reset. Nearly every normal routine, job, and social interaction is affected in some way. For those that lost jobs, income, savings, and net worth it is time that we need to rebuild our lives.
Many of those lives will look very different when this is over. I join others in my hope that we will become more caring, more forgiving and value our friends and loved ones even more. But for now, in this moment, I am taking time to enjoy the simple joy of being together.
Jodi Urgitus lives in Denver.