Fear and insomnia.

I woke last night, clinging to the edge of my bed. A hot little leg was wrapped over my hip, anchoring me. One skinny arm was thrown across my chest. Sandwiched between me and my sprawled leukemic six year old was my one year old, snoring lightly.

We have a king size bed, and yet, night after night, they inch closer and closer until we are a giant, sweaty ball of tangled limbs and slicked down hair, curled on one pillow together. This doesn’t wake them, but it wakes me.

Or maybe it’s my thoughts that wake me.

The world seems on the brink of chaos. There is such confusion and vitriol. Fear and panic tinge the air that I breathe. I am angry all the time. Politics are twisted into something that shouldn’t be political. We’ve stopped listening to doctors and experts, instead turning to personal internet “research.” We scream media hysteria and election year and close our eyes to the truth right in front of us.

I can’t breathe.

In four short years, my son has died, my daughter has cancer, and the world is holding its breath, waiting to see if the scales will tip for or against the human race.

Whether you are genuinely concerned about the pandemic or you think it’s media hype, you cannot help but admit that the world is changing. The effects of COVID19—on the way we view media, the government, our economy, each other—cannot be understated. This will alter the face of our country.

On a microlevel, I struggle every day with my daughter’s diagnosis. Every ache and pain, I ask, is the leukemia coming back? Is this chemotherapy? Is she just having “normal kid” aches and pains? Did the grocery delivery person expose us to coronavirus? I dread chemotherapy on Monday even more than I thought possible. Will we expose ourselves to careless sick people?

I haven’t left the house in days, nor will I. We hunker down here. A new playset for the backyard will be delivered on Monday. It was expensive, and we should be saving all of our money, since I am not working. But who knows how long we will remain locked in here?

On the bright side, I am getting lots of laundry washed and folded. My kids’ rooms are actually clean.

I can’t turn off the news or social media. It’s not healthy, but I can’t seem to stay away.

Does everyone realize that it will be months before we know the true extent of this? This isn’t going to just “go away.” This is a new virus. We have no immunity to it. It is NOT the flu. We have a flu vaccine. We all likely have some antibodies to it. But Coronavirus, no. Our bodies will not recognize it, and we will sicken.

Whatever happens, books will one day be written about this period in history. We can tell our grandchildren, “I was there when COVID-19 went worldwide.”

We have chemotherapy on Monday. I will take Hazel, while Jim stays behind with the girls. They will watch from our window as the playground is installed in the backyard. They won’t be allowed to be outside—no interacting with the installation people.

I don’t really think this is the end of the world. I do think it’s a new beginning. Only time will tell what that new beginning is.

Published by Catherine Ashe

I am a mother to four children, one gone before me. I write to release the pain.

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