Life Changes in a Moment

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I don’t even know where to begin.  For a couple of weeks, I’ve had a post drafted, just waiting for me to read through it one last time and find some pictures for it, but then I just couldn’t find the time to finish it off…

I guess I have time now.

It’s hard to even imagine how different life is now from just a week ago.  It literally just doesn’t even seem possible that a week ago we were joking about anyone who had a cough in our office, and now, we’re not even IN the office.   We’re not anywhere but home, with the exception of an occasional, potentially ill-advised trip to the grocery store (or the computer store, if you’re unlucky enough to have a computer crash when ¾ of your family has to “work” form home). 

We started out the week in church, Sunday March 8.  Rusty (our interim Pastor while our real pastor takes parental leave) announced before the passing of the peace that, in light of recent news of the coronavirus, it was okay not to shake hands.  That led to a situation where some people wanted to shake hands but were unsure if the other person wanted to, and those who didn’t want to shake hands became very closed off and essentially had to forcibly turn people away.  It was very awkward and unpleasant and I hated every moment of it. Passing of the peace is one of my favorite parts of church, and I make a point to shake as many hands as I can.

Monday was my 5-year anniversary with Ford.  When I awoke and read my daily Bloomberg email (I like to follow business news), the title of the first article was “Ugly,” and the email started with, “On what is shaping up to be a day for the history books in markets…”  That was followed by an email an hour later, also from Bloomberg with the subject: “We’re about to find out how bad things really are.”  It was the “first edition” of their new daily coronavirus update, which they offered as a free subscription if I clicked the button. I only read the first few lines. I was so frustrated at what I assumed was just more hyperbole, I angrily delated it. 

Then the rest of the day happened.  “Ugly” was pretty accurate. Less than two hours later, the Dow Jones industrial Average, which was already well off is record highs of the previous month, plummeted 2000 points in 10 minutes.   Everywhere online there were videos and LOTS of memes (pictures) showing empty shelves…where toilet paper was supposed to be!  Not to mention all the hand-sanitizer that was being bought up like it was life-saving water.  That led to lots of social media arguing (some in-person arguing too) about the “over reacting” and “media hype” and “inciting hysteria.”  And I mean, you had to admit…for people to literally clear the store shelves of toilet paper, when the virus in question wasn’t one that had any symptoms that would require it, seemed ludicrous.

Meanwhile, I was still out to celebrate my 5-year anniversary.  I’d brought cookies for the occasion:

Obviously, I joked about it then…little did I know…

By Wednesday, March 11, the jokes were dying out.  Many U.S. companies—big companies—were requiring their employees to “work from home.”  Twitter, for example. More and more universities were outright cancelling classes.  The NCAA basketball tournaments that were to be held that weekend, as well as the final four at the end of the month, were now going to be held “without spectators.” The markets dropped again, lower than they had on Monday. The Dow officially entered a bear market, which I guess is defined as being more than 20% off a recent high (in January, in this case). 

It was on this day when I started thinking more consciously of what I was touching throughout the day and making a concerted effort to wash my hands at every opportunity.

The entire country of Italy was on day 2 of lockdown, and around the world, the travel industry was in a tailspin.  Truly, the amount of news on this day was just mind-blowing—too numerous to mention.  But the big one came at 9pm that night: President Trump went on live TV in primetime from the Oval Office (for only the second time) and announce that all travel from Europe to the United States would be suspended for the next 30 days.  I watched it live, and it was shocking.  I honestly thought at that moment that everyone had lost their minds.  It seemed so unnecessary and overblown.  NO travel to Europe? For thirty days? Really?

Later that evening, the NBA announced they were suspending the season.  The NHL came next, and the MLB announced the cancellation of spring training and a postponement of opening day for two weeks.

By Thursday, I woke up dreading what might happen next.  Other countries in Europe besides Italy closed schools and even borders.  Major public events were being cancelled at an alarming rate.  Like, by the minute.  People on social media were either firmly in the “we must protect ourselves” or the “this is bullshit” mode, one way or the other.  We started seeing the “flatten the curve” graphic.

Literally, dozens of people posted that.  And events were being cancelled literally by the minute. By the end of the day, stocks had tanked again—big time. More than 10% in one day (this after a 5% drop the previous day).  The NCAA canceled March Madness completely, as well as all other spring sports (golf, lacrosse, tennis, baseball, softball).  On a more local level, all the Michigan High School winter championship games were suspended, affecting many families I know. 

At 12:20pm, we got an email from our kids’ schools telling us the precautions they were taking and advising us on precautions we should take (don’t come to school if you’re sick, etc.).

At 3:43pm, we received word from both kids’ schools that the Archdiocese of Detroit was mandating a closure of all Catholic schools for Friday March 13 and Monday March 16.   (Our kids go to Catholic schools, fyi.) The one piece of normalcy on that day was that JJ’s end of season hockey banquet went on as scheduled.

Friday morning, March 13, I once again woke up with dread.  And the first thing I saw on my phone was this screen shot, sent to me from Jamie, who was staying the night at a friend’s.

That was the moment I knew that there was no more denying we were in a full-blown crisis.  Whether right or wrong, it was happening, and there was nothing we could do to stop it. 

From that point on, things happened so fast.  Our “spring break” was moved to this week (March 16-20) and the students are to then spend the following two weeks in some form of “distance learning.” By 10am, we’d gotten notification from Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett, advising that all employees who could work from home would be required to. 

At 10:56am, I received the shocking news that I never thought would happen—our church cancelled services until at least the end of the month.  The one thing I thought couldn’t possibly be taken from us—the one event that we could use as our refuge in trouble times—was cancelled. I was devastated, but not as devastated as I was when I got the next email at 11:17am:

The school auction was being postponed.

(I’m sure that probably seems trivial, but you have to understand that we have had major disruption to our school auctions for three of the last four years, and I really, really thought they wouldn’t make any changes this year. Plus, my husband has been working SO HARD on our 8th grade auction item this year and I was heartbroken that it wasn’t going to be auctioned off the next day after all his hard work.)

Since then, it’s only gotten worse.  Every day, I dread reading the news.  The stock market is, shockingly, even lower than it was before.  (My 401k has lost over 25% since last month.)  All restaurants, bars, and gyms in my state (and many others) are closed. Movie theaters are closed. The travel industry is in a tailspin.  (My sister-in-law is a travel agent; I hear about it from the front lines.)  The auto industry has closed all its plants. The White House has advised people not to gather in groups of more than 10.  The list just goes on and on…

Right now, my kids and I are hunkered down at home, for the most part.  Yesterday Jamie and I went to the grocery store, because we needed milk and a few other things.  Today I had to send him out to—of all places—the computer repair store.  Our family computer picked this time of all times to die, the time when I need it to work so my two children can complete “distance learning” while under quarantine starting next week. *sigh* 

In this unusual time, we’re trying to find normalcy.  I’ve been working from home since Monday. Here’s my St. Patrick’s Day post:

I’ve been trying to do my regular routine, including hair, make-up, and work clothes, each day.   I’m trying my best to be positive about working from home, but with two bored teenagers underfoot, it’s proving to be challenging.  (Plus, it’s so hard to avoid All The Food in my house!!)  The kids will “go back to virtual school” next week, and that will be interesting.  Sports for both kids have been put on hold; we literally went from being constantly over-scheduled to zero things on our calendar overnight.  I know Jamie is missing lacrosse right now especially; it’s his senior year, and he was really looking forward to being a key player, maybe even a captain, as the season got underway, but all of it is on hold right now. We can only pray that he gets to play at some point before he graduates.  Hell, at this point, we can only pray that he gets to graduate.

I realize these are just minor things; we are healthy, and we are lucky that we can “self-quarantine.”  Of course, during all this, my husband, a paramedic for the city of Detroit, doesn’t have the luxury of staying at home.  He’s gone into work every night since Sunday, working 12-hour shifts (actually, more) every night.  He’s tired, but he’s keeping his sense of humor: yesterday when he got off his shift, I asked him how it was out there, and he replied that things are definitely getting crazier at the hospitals.

Jason: “At Oakwood, they’ve set up ‘drive-thru’ corona virus testing.”

Me: “How’s that going?”

Jason: “It looks like the grand-opening of a Chick-Fil-A.”

I’ll try to post something more positive soon…maybe I’ll even polish off that post I had waiting…now that I have so much more time on my hands.

Thanks for reading!

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