Pretty much wherever you are in the world, you are probably experiencing some type of quarantine/isolation/curfew rules in your area. I HOPE you are, anyway.
I’m on day 22. I a little ahead of most people, because I’m immuno-compromised and the DR is getting hit with COVID-19, so in my paranoia and attempt to stay covid-free I began isolating a week before everyone else. Isolation has been lonely. We all are having our own experiences but I think it’s safe to say that I’m the only person I know who is on an island with no roots or family, and no real way to get back to the US (even though I don’t want to, it’s weird that I can’t).
I’m going a little stir crazy but mostly because I’m an errand-runner. I’m not too people-y but I do enjoy leaving the house and seeing something besides my 4 walls. But overall I’m handling this pretty well, more so than many. And then I realize…here’s another example of a man I loved teaching me something so valuable.
When I was hospicing my dad, I didn’t know it then but he was training me. Teaching me how to help Michael die just a few months later. The experience I gained helping my dad was invaluable when Michael got sick. I knew all about what he was going to experience. I know what to expect. What to watch for. How to “cancer-proof” the house. How to help him prepare to die.
And here we are. A year and a half later, and the world is in quarantine. Particularly in the Dominican Republic, for the moment the regulations are more strict. We have a nationwide curfew from 5pm-6am, and it’s being enforced. Similar to the US, all the stores and small businesses are closed. Nothing here is open except food or life sustaining places. Our confirmed cases are still growing quickly and our death rate is high, last time I checked it was over 6%. And all we can do is stay home.
And then, I realize it again. I’m actually handling this quarantine okay all things considered. It’s been 22 days of isolation, but this is just a physical isolation. Losing Michael was my training for this. Because since he has been gone, I’ve been isolated anyway. No, perhaps not physically isolated – but I locked myself away in a safe place where nobody else was allowed. I depended on a few but that didn’t work out, so I went inside myself. And I’ve been here ever since.
Yes, it’s lonely. My life has a huge gaping hole in it. But that’s not to say I’m sad or depressed. I’m not. I’m feeling pretty hopeless for the moment and pretty numb, but like with all other horrible things, I can say I’ve been through much worse. So the fear doesn’t exist for me.
Michael taught me that love is whole, and he taught me that loss is deep. He taught me that some losses will be felt forever. He taught me how to go inside myself and count on me, because I’m the only one I had for the most part.
I think back to the first Thanksgiving by myself. My 50th birthday, two weeks after he died. Alone. I think of every lonely night, every conversation I wish I could have with him. I think of the decisions I’ve made without his counsel. I think of the night of his service and my sister asking my daughter to take her home because she didn’t want to stay with me because I was a drag. I think of the future. I think of all the times I REALLY need him to help me decide on something. All the times I was lost and had no idea what to do. And more times like that to come. All the times we were robbed of. And I realize, losing him just prepped me for this. I’m pretty good at emotional survival skills, turns out.
I think the word expert is earned through experiences, not degrees. And I would say that I am an expert in death and emotional survival. It sucks to be an expert in these things, but here I am.
And I suppose I am grateful. Grateful that the gut wrenching loneliness and pain have equipped me to just keep on keeping on. And to those who are new to this isolation, welcome to my world. ❤ Take comfort in knowing that someday, your isolation will end. ❤