Hello, my friend. I’m here. You there? Good. I think that’s the way they want us right now.
As I walked my dog recently, I heard someone call my name. It took me a bit to locate the voice but when I did, it was coming from my neighbor’s window. Dan and Sandy, both 80-somethings, had their sweet faces crammed into a tiny four-inch gap between their window and sill so they could talk to me.
Many mornings, Bailey and I will stop by Dan and Sandy’s house. Bailey is adamant about that. As I’ve written before, she is a neighborhood ambassador to the oldest and youngest on my block. And Dan and Sandy are among her favorite friends. They bring us homemade peanut brittle every Christmas (which I promptly throw out because it’s of the tooth-breaking variety), and I bake cookies for them. Dan will roll my recycling cart back up my driveway if he sees it’s empty at the curb, knowing I work long hours. Just after my divorce, when he was in better health, he would snowblow my sidewalk for me. I never asked him to do any of these things—he just is the very definition of what I’d call “good people.” He thinks of others.
Dan taught music in the local schools for decades. Sandy was also a career elementary school teacher. Many of their former students still stay in touch, despite being middle-aged. They’re the kind of people who make a quiet difference.
As Bailey bounded over and tried to fit her 90-pound body through a four-inch gap, I remained a respectful and healthy six feet away. “Oh, it is so good to see your faces!” I said. “Are you both ok? Do you need anything dropped off at the door? Food? Prescriptions?”
Dan assured me they were ok. Their son was checking on them. And they were ordering from a foodservice they have used for years. He told me they were reading books, playing the piano, keeping busy inside.
But then he said something I want to share with all of you: “Kristine, we have lived through wars and hard times. Times where real sacrifice was required on everybody’s part. I think what we’re seeing now is a couple of generations who have never had to do that. And I hope they learn that lesson—fast. Sandy and I are probably nearing the end of our lives. We’re old anyway. But we should be able to pass in peace, with the people we love around us.”
I swallowed hard and blew them a kiss. Told them I loved them and that before we knew it, we’d be sitting on their patio again and chatting about the garden, the weather, their grandkids. Then I gave them my cell number in case they needed anything. But as I went back to my walk and turned the corner, the tears welled up.
I am trying so hard not to judge or blame. But the former colleague who jetted off for a spa weekend just a week ago came to mind. The mother in a Facebook group who complained about not being able to find an open venue for her daughter’s birthday party. I won’t go on. You know your own versions of these people. I have to remind myself these are not awful people. But neither are they wise, caring people—at least in this moment. And when I see my elderly neighbors have to speak to me through a four-inch gap in their window, I get a little steamed with the idiots who continue to think in me-me-me terms. Oh hell, you all know me—I may as well be honest. I’m more than a little steamed—I’m furious.
We’re all navigating new waters. It feels like I woke up in a Stephen King novel. And while I’ve found our global situation extremely hard to deal with this week, I keep trying to emphasize the positive—and my ability to get through this.
I have two friends dealing with far worse. Each has a loved one with cancer and they’re having to make regular visits to hospitals for chemotherapy during a global pandemic in which even people with normal immune systems can become seriously ill.
One has a son who was best buddies with my eldest when they were quite small. Sammer was like a third son to me—another little-boy face at my table, smiling happily while he gobbled up the green beans my sons complained about having to eat. As I write this, Sammer and his family are awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test because he has spiked a fever, replete with sore throat and other symptoms, midway through chemotherapy treatment. Only one parent could be with him in the hospital—and when they do the changing of the parental guard, the other has to go home and self-quarantine for two weeks. Can you imagine? Yet, Jules, his mother, was strong and uncomplaining when I talked to her yesterday.
The other friend has a husband about to start cancer treatment. I often tease that she eats and drinks like a monk. No sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no alcohol. When I talked to her the other night, I reminded her I had dry-farmed wine that she could probably tolerate far better than traditional wine. I expected her to say her usual “No thank you.” Instead, she said, “I’m going to take you up on that offer. Do you have a white?” I promptly dropped it at her door with a note of support.
All most of us have to do right now is stay home, love each other, take walks, do our thing. We can do this.
I believe in the power of technologies like Artificial Intelligence to help us beat this mutating virus.
I believe in the dedication and ingenuity of our human scientists and medical personnel.
I am encouraged by business and local leaders who are stepping up to help solve this problem and fill the vacuum of national leadership we have in my country.
I’ll end with a few things that make me smile and give me hope. If you have some to share in the comments below, please do.
Whether it’s turning your little tiny library into a food pantry:
Or making your neighbors smile as they walk by your house:
Or deciding that you can still sing with angel voices, despite a canceled local concert. This high school group each recorded in their own home so their voices could be blended together as if they were singing as a group. Now, instead of just local families and friends hearing them, people thousands of miles away can enjoy them. They made my cry like a baby. Young, sweet faces and hopeful voices. Need I say more?
It is ironic that in a time when we must individually distance ourselves from each other, it is only collectively that we can beat this bug.
I love it when humanity shines, even if it must be through a four-inch window gap. Love to you all. Be safe and well.
81 Comments Add yours
beautiful post. we can all learn so much from each other, especially in challenging times
Thank you! I agree completely.
This is incredibly well written. Thank you for introducing Dan and Sandy. Thank you for checking in on them to see if they are okay. I am almost 62 Kay, much younger than Dan and Sandy and have never in my life felt this vulnerable. And I have had an adventurous life of climbing mountains and running long distance ultras.
It does upset me when there is apathy regarding staying home to prevent the spread. Which goes in my own family, having to have a “talk” with my own adult children that they were not taking this seriously enough.
Thank you again. Have just followed you on Twitter, and I will share it there! 🙂
I’m glad you’re OK, Carl! And I hear you on family & friends. I’ve been surprised by people I expected to understand actions toward the greater collective good, who instead are running to the store constantly or sneaking in a haircut . . . I try not to judge but find our values are different . . .
Thank you! Definitely different values!
OMG. What a beautiful post. Your wise, elderly neighbors and friends with their health challenges brought tears to my eyes. We all have to look out for each other in these times. So beautifully put, Kristine. (By the way, I realized I’ve been reading you longer than any other blogger. You inspired me from the beginning with my own fledgling efforts and continue to do so. Thank you).
Thank you, Laurie! How very kind of you. I’m honored to still be a go-to read for you:). And I always enjoy reading your blog. I’m so with you on looking out for each other. Am hoping there are more of us that think that than not . . .
I thought I’d commented last month, but I obviously left it for later… until now❤️ Lovely post Kristine, isn’t it great that we get to meet and hear about so many people acting consciously and lovingly. People who, through their experience have realised that they have to be the change to be able to come together to make a better world with their friends and family. AND then we hear about those who just haven’t got it yet! Don’t realise they have to change their own behaviour , be responsible and then join others in creating a harmonious community.
IAM not sure how long this isolation has to be endured for more people to finally turn within and find comfort with themselves, before they can be any use to anybody!
Unfortunately we have all misunderstood that being together in groups and helping each other, is where our power lies! After all, we have only managed to steal energy from one another, blame, control, dominate and separate each other.
Through our own experience we are now realising that each person is born sovereign, loving and all powerful. We don’t actually need another to survive or thrive! IAM talking about everyone having the potential to manifest whatever they desire to experience!
Only when we allow ourselves to feel this, to know this, by being quiet and going within, can we go about building a community with each other to play, have fun and celebrate life.
Kristine… you know now how your post has inspired my next post as this needs a little bit more explaining. Thankyou and hope you are smiling and managing this quiet surreal time❤️ Much love x
Happy to be an inspiration! Thanks, Barbara. And yes, I hope this changes us for the better. So many people clamoring for things to go back to “normal,” not realizing this is a chance for us to rethink normal and do it better.
Kristine, I don’t know how I missed this a month ago, but it is still so beautiful. This marks exactly 30 days I’ve been in isolation since picking up our daughter early from University. It has been hardest on her coming from full freedom to full lockdown, but she finally gets the importance and has learned to not bitch, but embrace. I’m most taken aback by the seniors in our neighbourhood and their vast differences in comfort level being at home. The widow next door is managing well during lockdown, while his neighbour–who was used to doing one shop a day–is struggling. I’m loving the family togetherness but thankful we have a big enough space for us all to separate during the day 🙂 Stay safe. ❤
Oh, it’s not easy for families where children have come home from University! Just when they’re used to being their own person on their own schedule, they’re back at home with parental eyes/guidance. Hard on both sides. And I hear you on the seniors–I think they are just mirroring the rest of us. The introverts are dealing quite well but the extroverts are feeling a little batty. I’m glad you have “spaces in your togetherness” as Kahlil Gibran so eloquently put it. Stay well!
Be well and take care!
Thanks! The same wish to you over the pond.
Oh those kind of people make me so angry. I’m not really angry at them individually, but more collectively. Because I know they don’t mean to be cruel and something happened to make them so selfish, and I might love them individually anyway even in their selfishness, but as a whole they are very dangerous.
I’m beyond trying to understand. At a certain point, we’re each responsible for what we bring into the world–or take out of it. And these folks need to get a clue . . . I admire your kinder attitude:).
I have been encouraged, depressed, loved on, felt left out , frustrated, blessed, frustrated, overly blessed and downright mad at some of the things that have come out of me being shut up. We are suppose to move the end of this month but honestly not sure yet how that is going to work. We have made plans, scraped them, made more plans. Every morning after I get up my husband has been up for a few hours, he will tell me a new plan. Today he said, I am so tired from looking for ways to get us moved during this mess. Making decisions is hard for him because he is a perfectionist and he wants to please me too…poor man. Really none of our options were wrong, could be done but we are trying to save some money. I think for the first time I see how having money would not even help in this.
My husband has struck up a friendship with a 97 year old man living in a house next door, a care house. Ace has takes him coffee twice a day, I fix him treats, chicken and dumplins on evening. It’s been the best thing for my husband during this shut down. He drips with the gift of mercy so he is happiest when it is full swing. How lovely for the older ones to have you to talk to. Blessings.
Oh, I got tears in my eyes when you mentioned your 97-year-old neighbor. I love that the two of you have taken him under your wing. I really think those are some of the best hero stories during this time. It’s each of us just doing whatever is right in front of us to do to be caring. I am going to keep you in my good thoughts and prayers. That your move happens as it should. That you love your new place. And that both of you stay well. Keep the faith. It’s all going to work out.
It does bring out the best and worst in us and you’re right, most of us have to do nothing but stay indoors. These are touching and heart-warming stories Kristine.
Thanks so much, Andrea. I am trying to be inspired by people showing their best sides rather than disappointed or angry at those who aren’t going for the greater good. Stay well . . .
Lovely post Kristine, summing up in images which many of us are feeling. Your old friends are right – we’re not being asked to go to war, just sit tight. Maybe we’ll come through it as better people.
I even had a runner friend message me an hour ago offering to do my shopping, which made me feel suddenly ancient, but it was kind.
Oh, I love stories of people reaching out to help one another. I think sometimes by accepting that help, you’re helping others as much as they are helping you😀. Glad to hear you are well in your corner of the world, Roy.
Next time you see Dan and Sandy, please say hello for me. I miss them so much and think of them often.
Oh, Colleen–it’s so good to hear from you! I hope you and the family are faring ok in this craziness. I will definitely tell them you said hello. I tried to wave and chat through their family room window today, but they weren’t in their usual spots.
I’ve got some neighbors who are setting up funny scenes with their Halloween decorations and fake toilet paper rolls in their front yard for all the joggers and dog walkers to see. I love seeing how my neighborhood is keeping and sharing a sense of humor. There are also all these group texts flying back and forth on my street — people dropping off groceries for those who can’t go to the store and such. In the face of hoarding and other unadmirable behaviors, it makes me feel better to know there are still generous, thoughtful people out there.
Oh, your neighborhood sounds wonderful! I am so hoping that everybody has a support network right now. I think this time is particularly hard for those who have to do social distancing alone.
Prayers for Sammer! I love the chalk on the sidewalk.
I love The chalk on the sidewalk also. You’re seeing that a lot in the neighborhoods around me. And it’s really lifting people’s spirits as they walk.
Your perspective will help keep your part of the world as soothed as possible, Kay. The little things can mean so much now, reaching out through the physical distances, yes, the offering of any kind of comforts.
Here, yesterday I heard of a local apple orchard distillery that just successfully switched the whole operation over to producing hand sanitizer instead. Yes, any little thing you can.
I love those stories, Mark! And the people sewing for medical personnel, etc. We have a chance to show our best side.
I have had similar thoughts about how we have never really had to learn how to sacrifice for the greater good. Perhaps that’s part of what drives the hoarders and the people who have been unwilling to stay home. They just don’t know how to think of others, to be in this together with others.
What brought up such thoughts is the way we are currently being so frugal here at home, trying to stretch everything so that we don’t have to shop, to give those who weren’t able to stock up time to get their groceries. We had bare shelves at the stores here last week (and told by the cashier that the reason wasn’t that they weren’t restocking but that the same people were coming in and buying everything up as soon as it came in). I’m hoping they will start rationing. I’m not sure that will work, but maybe it’s a start.
Stay safe and well. 🙂
I’m so glad your family is doing its part. I can’t shop right now b/c my lungs are still not 100% after the flu. And I stayed up until midnight last night for an Instacart grocery order for the week that never came. If we all could keep a level head, oh, how wonderful it would be.
Your neighbours sound like the loveliest people. I can’t help thinking about my parents right now. My mother is in England half a world away, and although my father is at least in NZ, I still can’t see him. We’re making do with calls and emails, but my anxiety levels are definitely elevated.
I can’t even imagine. I know how worried I was about my own parents years ago before they died end and that was with no coronavirus, just your typical flu season. I will send you good thoughts and I hope that your family stays well and healthy.
Thank you so much Kristine.
Here in Australia, we were trusted to do the right thing, and we were told clearly what it was. But so many people just did what they usually do: thousands went to the beach, to nightclubs, on jaunts here, there and everywhere. Now we are in close-to lockdown conditions with worse to come “if” people don’t listen. They won’t, unfortunately. One dear, intelligent person I know called the restrictions “all a bit silly” because their holiday is being interrupted.
I would like to spare a thought for international students at the moment. Many have become stranded in a country not their own, where they know no one, and haven’t even been able to start the year with on-campus events that help them make friends and get used to their new environment. They are often all alone in four small walls, thousands of miles from home, with no way of getting home now. But they are trying to remain cheerful, to do their best work and to abide by the new rules. Bravo to them.
I am as baffled by those who don’t comply as you are, Caron. To me, this is simple math that we all learned in elementary school. It’s multiplication. And what bothers me most is that as you said – there are some intelligent people that most of us know who are taking the attitude that if they are OK, all is fine. Which is so not true right now. Please stay well and healthy. It is good to hear from you!
Your lovely neighbour is right about the generations who have not had to worry about too much at all. My 30-something daughter asked me last week to explain to her what a “Depression” was (of the economic kind). It was something that she – a well-educated, smart young woman – had no idea about. What would happen, she wanted to know. I couldn’t really explain that last question…do any of us really know what will happen in this changing world? As always, you are on the money in hoping that humanity shines through. Things will be different on the other side of this, I hope. Stay well, my long-distance friend.
Thank you, Lee! When this is all over, it will just be that much more important that we finally travel across the miles to meet in person. 👍🏻
It’s a deal! 🙂
Hang tight to your faith and find humor when you can… when the TP runs out create you own portable “bidet” with a spray bottle and washcloth. Stay strong. We’re all in this together…6 feet apart. Praying for all.
Oh so right. Strong together, apart.
One of the things that crossed my mind the other day was when people (? the English) had to blackout their homes during the Blitzkrieg in WW2, and when things were rationed around the world. This time feels a little bit like our generation’s version of WW2 without the guns and bullets.
I’ve definitely noticed friends and neighbors checking on each other. To date, I only know one infected couple, who are currently recovering from the virus. I consider myself lucky considering that an hour south is a hotspot (Kirkland, WA). So far, my little family is well and I hope yours continues to be so.
I couldn’t agree more. I think that great character sometimes comes from great testing. And this is our test.
Hi Kay. These are very tough times. The outcome is a big unknown. We can only hope that scientists will develop solutions ASAP. If they don’t . . .
I agree. Put in my date job, I write a lot about innovation and the people making it happen. And I do believe that we will tackle this. I do believe there will be a lot of damage in the interim, but I ultimately believe that we will be amazed at people’s ingenuity I’m trying to solve this problem.
It is an interesting time Kristine, this generation has had no experience in having to do without. We had a thousand people gathered on Bondi Beach in Sydney a couple of days ago. The police had to go down and remove them and the government stepped in and closed all beaches.
I think because they thought they would be out in the open it would be fine, but as you said ‘they’ may not get hit hard by the virus because their health is fine, but they most certainly will carry it and pass it on to those that can’t beat it. Selfish? Probably, but more likely a generation that has not had to suffer in any way. Hopefully it will engender a bit more self thought in their actions and tune into what being human is all about.
Hope you are well dear lady, and Bailey is living up to his nature of loving everything that moves. At times like this they are a Godsend because of their nature 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋
Bailey is definitely my furry angel! And she is as sweet with my old neighbors as she is fierce with anyone that tries to come near the house. Double blessing right now😃. I had no idea that there were 1000 people on the beach down there just a couple of days ago. I am so glad that they are starting to curtail everything. Our hospitals are already starting to overflow.
Sorry Kristine, ‘she’ is most certainly a furry angel. I think I must have ‘assumed’ she was a he because over here I’ve only ever heard Bailey as a male name. I need to spread my cultural aspects a little deeper 😂
Thankfully over here the government clamped down hard and fast even while the W.H.O. were still saying everything is fine. It is taking off now though as ‘some’ of the decisions the government made were oh so square peg in a round hole like leaving schools open. Yes children appear to be a lot stronger immune wise but they will most certainly still spread it around like crazy at school and then bring it home to all those families. I’m still shaking my head at that one, but could we expect less. I still think it was a medical decision so that we get herd immunity for next year, and then next flu season it won’t hit anything like it is now.
Love and light to you all, and may your angel keep your hearts light and cheery 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋
No worries, Mark. She is a beauty. Herd immunity is a concept I keep hearing about it around, but I tend to agree with this article: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/coronavirus-can-herd-immunity-really-protect-us/
Yes that article is very right Kristine. Plus the fact that it is very contagious means it wouldn’t matter if we had herd immunity, it would still spread far and wide and still get those who’s immunity is not strong. The elderly etc.
A bit of a conundrum. Looks like it will boil down to when some ability to medicate for it will be created.
Thank you for that article, it gives a better understanding of this journey 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋
Stay well, my kind friend! And away from the herd for now :-).
I love the vision of your neighbours. So sweet, and perhaps on any other given busy day, you would not have had that conversation with them, would not have heard their wisdom. Now is the time to stop, see and hear it all. There are beautiful messages of hope and love right now. If we allow ourselves to pause and see them. You have helped us see that today. Thanks Kristine 😊💕💕
Thanks, Karen. You’re always a kind, calm voice, even in the midst of chaos. I appreciate you chiming in here.
Thank you 💚💕
Beautiful post, Kristine. If everyone bands together and respects the guidelines, they’ll be able to nip this virus in the bud. As long as there are eejits out there “I’m healthy so no way am I gonna stop myself from doing x,y,z…”, it will prolong this disease and hinder the progress. Here’s hoping they wake up.
So we will keep waving at people from afar, Skyping or Facetiming or whatever App you prefer, leaving goods at the doors of those in need and the stay home, connected by the oft-defiled social media! Hey Naysayers… not so bad now, eh?
I do think plenty of people are starting to get it. I guess I am baffled as to why they didn’t get it in the first place. To me, it seems simple math. But, I am trying to not judge while spreading some good😀
It wasn’t taken seriously back in January, then February. We were a tad worried for the first five minutes on our cruise (March 1) then became complacent ourselves – while still using the sanitizer and washing our hands. Once we got off the boat, we saw things were more dire than we thought and it has just escalated to where we are not extremely vigilant. Some are slower than others…
The same was true for my sister and her husband, who had scheduled a cruise to Australia and New Zealand. These things move so quickly that in days, it can be as if months have passed.
Your neighbours sound so lovely. I got a lump in my throat just reading about them. They also made me think of my Mom, who is 93, and in a nursing home. We haven’t been allowed to visit for a week now, which I completely understand and agree with. Although we call every day, our visits are the only thing that break her isolation, so it breaks my heart thinking of her right now. Stay well!
Oh, I cannot imagine how hard that must be for you. I remember how fiercely protective I was of my parents’ health when they were in their 80s and frailer than they used to be. I am hoping that everyone does what they are supposed to do and that the restrictions are able to be eased at a time that’s safe for all. Sending you hugs.
Nicely said. Thank you.
Thank you, Sue. I hope you’re keeping well and have all you need.
Thanks for caring and speaking out Kristine. I am seeing both the best and worst in people. It’s nice to hear about people helping neighbors or any in need. Take good care of yourself. Cyber hugs….
Right back ‘at ha with that hug. Thank you for the honest thoughts and inspiration I have found on your blog. And I do believe there are so many people out there helping each other.
I’m glad you found use in my musings. In person help seems more important to me.
I hear you. But also love our virtual community!
Our local Lions service club just put out posters on social media etc. offering to run errands, pick up things, and shop for anyone who’s vulnerable. I’m ticked off too at the people who travel and won’t self-isolate, but aside from that, I’m not going to get upset about people who are expressing angst at their lives being affected. We all have our own anxieties and this is hard on everyone–if people want to complain, that’s their way of coping, as long as they aren’t going out partying!
I love that the Lions are stepping up! I see a lot of local people offering to do the same for anyone who is stuck in their house. It helps remind me that there really is hope for humanity 😀.
Well, Dan’s comment brought tears to my eyes. He’s so right about both points. Furious doesn’t even cover part of the ground when I see and read some stories.
And I just said to my wife the other day, the thing that bothers me the most is not being able to see our children and grandchildren. You get to a certain point in life where all days and experiences are precious and you don’t want to lose any of them. Which is why if people could just act responsibly and do the right thing we can maybe shorten this a little and get back to being able to hug those we love. I hope you and your family stay well.
I hear you, George. Dan and Sandy have grandchildren nearby–one is special needs and in my youngest’s class. I know they’re hurting right now because they’re worried about him but can’t see him. I hope you and the family are back together again sooner than later, all healthy. Take care of yourself . . .
Another wonderful blog, Krisse. It infuriates me as well when I see selfish people gathering in groups or jetting off somewhere. Just selfish. And I do think back on my grandparents who went through WWI, the depression, & WWII. And think back on the lessons they tried to teach us but we couldn’t fully comprehend without ever going through it. We can get through this! Thanks again!!
I agree that we couldn’t fully comprehend the lessons from our elders. I thought it silly that my parents, who lived through the Depression, had shelves full of canned food in the basement. But they also raised us to think of the common good. I hope this whole experience makes us all more compassionate . . .
Beautiful post, Kristine. I was pretty irritated today to read a post by a newly published 40 something author. She was crying the blues because a radio interview had to be rescheduled. It appears the audience was more interested in discussing Covid-19 than listening to her plug her book. so they ran out of time. I really could not believe I was reading the angst over such a trivial thing. Since I’m high-risk both in age and underlying health issues including a compromised immune system, I had to gag on the self-centeredness of this person. Believe me, she has crossed the line in obsessing over her precious book. I hope you take care of yourself and bless you for your friendship with your neighbors.
Oh, John, I am sure this is an unsettling time for you. I hope you have a great support network that is helping you to stay away from people for now. (Doesn’t that sound like a complete contradiction in terms?) I am considered compromised for at least another 2 weeks while my lungs recover from my bout with the flu in early Feb. I get it. People just need to be kind and considerate. Sending you a virtual hug.
Thank you Kristine. I’ve had these issuues for ten years and so far have been able to stay healthy. Hugs back.
Strange thing about older people, they tend to think more about others than themselves, yet they still need help and attention. We also are good at keeping spirits high. You stay well. This will end!
I hope you and your wife are staying well, Steve! A good time for that Monopoly tournament:).
That’s a good idea. But, (there’s always a but) my wife broke her wrist in an icy fall and I’m learning new skills; preheating the oven, boiling water , cutting broccoli, yada, yada 🤪. Hope all is well. Be safe.