Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I am having a great amount of difficulty trying to formulate this letter so please bear with me. For many months now, I have noticed many changes in myself and I’m quite sure you will say that this has much to do with all the things we have undergone because of Covid-19, but I can tell you that isn’t so. The changes have not been subtle, or over time, they have descended on me like a ton of fallen bricks, exactly when this happened I do not recall, however, it was many months ago, of this I am certain. I went to sleep one night and awoke a completely different person.
I used to be a very optimistic person who loved to laugh, enjoyed spending hours playing with my grandchildren and spending time with family and friends. I was active in many organizations and had a very full and satisfying life. A few months into Covid-19, this all changed. I found it hard to speak to anyone, even on the phone, and I found it hard to even get out of bed and get dressed. When my adult children called to check up on me, very often I did not pick up the phone but sent back short texts just so as not to have to speak with them. I haven’t been able to hug my grandchildren because of social distancing, and experienced physical pain when they came with their parents but remained in the car so all we could do was wave to each other. So I asked them not to come. It has been almost a year that I haven’t seen or spoken to them. It’s as though who I was has vacated and some other being has taken up residence in my body. I look in the mirror and see a sour old woman.
Now the city is coming back to life slowly, people are more are out and about, albeit with masks on. The streets are full of shoppers re-experiencing the new awakening.
But I find no joy in it. In fact, I have forgotten how to be happy, how to laugh, how to live and I still do not leave my house. My children have begged me to get the vaccine so that it will be safe for them to come visit me with the grandkids, but I have no desire to have them come. A year is a terribly long time to not see the children. Both they and I have changed so much, we probably won’t even recognize each other, so there’s no point in getting vaccinated. I am horrified at the thought that I may die alone, yet, I am equally terrified to go back out there into life again. I exist now because I have forgotten how to live, or worse, I choose not to want to.
You have been a close companion throughout this ordeal and you speak to me through your column, so it is to you that I turn. Is there any help for me?
I’m so glad you took courage and comfort from this column, so much so that you allow me into your world. You say that I was your companion throughout this pandemic year and that you drew comfort from my words, so I ask you to listen closely to me now, as my words are expressly for you.
Although you believe you are alone in your transformation due to the terrible restrictions almost everyone suffered through this year, believe me, you are in the company of millions of people who have gone through trauma brought on by the virus. Everyone who suffered a loss of a loved one, who themselves were afflicted with the virus, who were cut off from family and friends and who have made life altering changes in their daily routines, are suffering from anxiety, depression, nightmares and terror and experience much of the same fears you are going through. However, with the advent of slowly returning to what we remember of life before the pandemic brings with it a multitude of new fears. How do we suddenly crawl out of the darkness into the light?
Rest assured that we have all changed over the course of the past fourteen months, some of us better, for the mental, emotional and physical wear and tear of this hardship and some of us worse. We have prayed and hoped for this awakening and now that it is evolving, we fear returning to the life of before. We have aged, there are some deep wrinkles obliterating the place where the laugh lines used to be, but our hearts and our minds are basically exactly where they were before. We have not forgotten how to love, how to think, how to dream. We still have the capability to be happy, to feel the delicious weight of a grandchild’s hug, their yummy kisses and the joyous sound of their laughter and chatter.
It is time to wake up from our private prisons and open the doors to welcome back all those we have been parted from. Just as you changed to conform to the constrictive life of the virus, you can also shed those shackles and free yourself of them now that it is no longer necessary to keep them. If you find it difficult to do on your own, you are welcome to ring me up and we’ll talk. There are some very special little people who are missing their Bubby something fierce, and I have a hunch that you are missing them just as much. Life is waiting to be lived and it beckons everyone to come back to it.