United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams said that the next two weeks will shape and define this generation likening COVID-19 to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Those words more than anything made this pandemic real to me. To have advance warning from a Surgeon General is, in a way, a gift of preparedness to us that those who experienced 9/11 and Pearl Harbor did not have.
I watch as our community, our state and world fight for normalcy amidst the surreal nature of this happening. In weeks, we moved schools to distance learning while parents serve as parent, teacher and also work from home. There is not one thing normal about that situation, but I am impressed with the humor and perseverance of my friends who are giving it the old college try.
The second week in March, my husband’s Uncle Gary had a stroke and two days later his mother broke her hip. Normally, Noel and I would have high-tailed it to Dallas and been by their side. But, no one was allowed in the hospital. On Thursday, we said our goodbyes on the phone to Uncle Gary and he died the next day. My motherin law said her goodbye to her baby brother from her hospital bed, but had no one to be by her side. She has been alone in the hospital now since March 18.
Another new is healthcare workers are now soldiers on the frontlines fighting against an enemy that has taken our world hostage. These healthcare professionals’ lives will be changed forever, the way a soldier’s life is changed when they return from war. I had planned to write a story this week of a nurse from Methodist Hospital South who chose to go to the front lines in a New York hospital where he is working 12-hour shifts. But the time for a story about heroism does not feel right to him. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is too soon in the race– way too soon in his mind to be called a hero when he is witnessing so much loss daily. I cannot fathom how a medical professional on the front lines in New York is emotionally, mentally and physically preparing for this crisis whose end is uncertain.
The Pleasanton Express phones during this time of remote working are forwarded to my personal cell phone. I take the calls and pass them on to the team who are working around the clock to bring you the local news. As often as I can, after I finish the call I ask, “How are you?” The stories I have heard from person after person have changed my life. I will be revisiting this week a mother who is also a grandmother to five, but she cannot see her grandchildren. She cannot see her daughters either except from six feet away as they are all healthcare professionals. She is not lonely. She is fearful. They may be adults, but they are still her children. I spoke at length to a business owner and mother who spends hours each night sanitizing her teenage son and all his belongings before he enters her house where her diabetic husband lives. Her son works in the food industry. She fears for her husband when her son returns home. She fears for her son when he returns to work.
We as a nation are buckled down waiting for the day when normal returns. But how will normal look in the weeks and months ahead. I hope that one thing remains. The connection that we are fighting to make in the midst of mandatory isolation. We are meeting with co-workers on Zoom and having game nights with friends and family via the computer, too. We are talking longer on the phone with family and calling old friends to see how they are holding up. We are cooking more dinners at home and sharing recipes. We are playing with our kids and spending time with them in ways we have not. We are connected even as we are told to stay apart.
I am so fortunate to have a good team to be isolated with, from my family to my co-workers to my group of local small business owners who are fighting together to not just survive, but thrive. I would like to know “How are you?” Call me at 830- 569-6130. I will be here.
NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher/Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.