Like a monarch caterpillar that transforms during its lifespan, we too, are changing amidst COVID-19. Life continues, however different. We march forward the best we can because we want to live well and experience beauty amidst pain. And there is pain… far greater than what I’m experiencing and deeper than what I can fathom. Still, I start within.
Around Friday, March 13, 2020, life as we knew it took an abrupt turn. Our district canceled school. People in Los Angeles, and eventually across the United States, along with the world, were told to isolate in their homes for the safety of themselves and others. Since then, I’ve been trying to feed two hungry teen boys and a very busy husband in the medical field, while feeling like I’m putting my life on the line to go to the grocery store. I came up with a schedule that allowed for flexibility. It included, but was not limited to: school work, quiet times, gardening, exercise, chores, help with cooking and cleaning, assisting groups through Zoom, media time, learning something new and reading. It’s been about seven weeks and I’m exhausted.
It’s an ambitious goal, one that has failed in bits and pieces every day; but we continue to try. For the first three weeks, we were on “spring break.” Then we adjusted to our new normal, engaging in our city’s “ISDLP” Independent Study Distance Learning Program for our kids. And like everything, our good plans continue to be tweaked as we live in a state of “wait and see.”
My high school senior has lost the final celebrations of a lifetime of work, culminating in those final goodbyes and well-wishes before college. No final season of track. No senior trip. No 18th birthday party. No final banquets. No prom. No awards ceremony. No “chalk day” (where the floors outdoors are full of artistic chalk declarations of colleges where students worked so hard to get into.) No Grad Nite. No graduation. Now is an age of rapid impromptu online replacements, a shadow of what was to be. Sure, there is hope. But first, mourning. I’m sad for him and what his freshman year in college might hold. I also realize more and more, that I’m mourning an anti-climactic celebration for families, for us, who worked so hard to support our kids through school: wake up routines, breakfast, homework, driving all over town for materials, drop off and pick ups, money for lessons, encouraging hugs and pep talks, and so much more… I’m mourning.
We adapt to survive. Thankfully, our odds are much better than a monarch’s. The mortality rate, among those infected with COVID-19, vacillates under 5%. A monarch’s survival rate is fewer than 10 in 100, due to predators and weather, among many other dangers. That’s why I plant native milkweed and attempt to raise some larvae in a butterfly habitat, being careful to clean their environment. Still, it’s risky. Protected monarchs are more prone to OE disease, potentially passing it on to healthy masses. There’s no easy answer, so I do my best. And we, as a society, are doing our best amidst our own unseen disease.
Recently, I was encouraged to write about this unprecedented time in history, to add my eyewitness account, because one day, maybe in the not too distant future, people will forget how life-changing this time was. So I will write about life amidst COVID-19 for weeks to come. What we are experiencing is a kind of metamorphosis. And like the majestic monarch butterfly, I pray we will come out on the other end, more beautiful and able to fly to new heights because we are stronger than we imagine.