Our little family of three is back together again, and holed up for the next few weeks in
self-imposed governor-imposed isolation. Z and I had already been staying home since March 16 for the most part, but did make a few calculated exceptions here and there. Now the state is officially on lockdown so everyone has to do the right thing.
With E back home with us since Friday (3/20), I feel a stronger sense of peace and calm. This also might have something to do with the fact that Z and I both received remote energy healing from Paula at Footsteps to Wellness on Friday – I know that helped a ton! Before that treatment, Z and I were both stressed to the max. More on that in a separate blog post soon.
Since we are settling in just the three of us – and our YFU intercultural exchange student, Verena, is safely back home in Germany with her family – I want to take a breath and reflect back over the last two weeks since the word Coronavirus entered our daily lives. It’s been a wild, crazy ride.
Being a memoirist means that I feel compelled to capture our family’s timeline in this overall, global health pandemic – the way that it all unfolded for us, and the unfortunate way it became inextricably linked with the last few days of my mother in law’s illness and, ultimately, her passing. It’s been a really, really rough week or so in our family.
Our Coronavirus timeline
Monday, March 9 is when I first started hearing about Coronavirus daily. Cases had been found in Ohio. Ohio State University made national news by closing campus for three weeks. We were all shocked – OSU never closes. At the same time, our life was still pretty normal; in fact, we said “yes” to hosting a mid-year intercultural exchange student, Verena, from Germany. I began texting with her immediately and knew she’d be a great fit with our family.
Tuesday, March 10 – more things began to get cancelled or rescheduled. E had several work trips cancelled, but that was fine with me because we really like having him around! We began to hear in the news and on Facebook about toilet paper outages at grocery stores. I thought about going to the store, but ended up waiting. That night, I went to a mom blogger event at Easton Town Center‘s new cafe and club, Forty Deuce. We had a blast! This was my last “girls night out” for a long time, though I didn’t even know it at the time.
Wednesday, March 11 – I picked up our new YFU student, Verena, at the airport; CMH was quieter than usual, but nothing too abnormal. We went to Panera for lunch and all seemed fine. We had dinner that evening as a family at California Pizza Kitchen at the Polaris mall. It was a fund-raiser for our school, and our server said it had been a fairly busy night.
Things still seemed normal enough that evening – so much so that I helped Verena book her flight to join us on our planned spring break trip to Florida. Her flight was oddly inexpensive – I may have even said “thank you, Coronavirus!” when I saw the cost.
Thursday, March 12 was our big Coronavirus reality check day. It was Z’s last day of school for the week, as Olentangy had a planned teacher work day on Friday. In honor of Z’s birthday, Verena and I brought Krispy Kreme donuts to Z’s school for her class to enjoy. That was my last time ever inside Z’s elementary school.
Right around then, we found out the shocking news that because of Coronavirus, Verena and her fellow CBYX exchange students were being recalled home to Germany immediately. Verena, our family and her parents were so sad and began brainstorming ways to fight it and allow Verena to stay. It just didn’t seem fair to cut her year short when she had only just arrived at our home!
Later that afternoon, just before the school bus brought Z home to us, we learned that due to an executive order by Governor Mike DeWine, our schools would be CLOSING for three weeks, beginning Monday, because of the Coronavirus threat. We could not believe it! It just seemed so crazy, like something out of a movie or book, not reality. By this point, things were happening SO FAST.
That same evening, we learned that Zoe’s Grandma in Florida was getting even more seriously ill. She had been battling multiple illnesses for a long time, and the doctors were warning us her condition was worsening.
Friday, March 13 – Z didn’t have school, and our day was devoted to party prep. That evening, we were hosting her big 10th birthday sleepover party! Amidst running pre-party errands and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy, we all started getting Coronavirus-related emails from literally every company and brand imaginable. It still didn’t seem real – the school closure news literally seemed like a bad joke. How would working parents manage things with kids at home for three weeks!?
That afternoon, the US government declared a national emergency. I started paying close attention to Governor DeWine’s daily news conferences with Dr. Amy Acton, which continue to be a staple for receiving important information.
Z had her party that night as planned. I had two moms text me to ask if we were still having it “in light of Coronavirus” and I told them both yes. My rationale is that the kids were together all day Thursday at school, so what’s one day’s difference? And all the girls came as planned – we didn’t have any cancellations. I’m so glad Zoe and her friends had one last big hoorah together before the self-imposed lockdown happened.
Saturday, March 14 – The girls all left around 11 am. It snowed that day! I went to the grocery store and stocked up on some things, although there was still no TP to be found. Verena and I took our dogs to Char Mar Preserve for a winter hike.
I also ran a few errands – stores like Sherwin Williams were strangely empty, and the few people I saw were very talkative but also stood their distance. I noticed new, odd social groupings of people standing about 6-8 feet apart in line. We had all heard about “social distancing” from Gov. DeWine and Dr. Acton, and it looked like everyone was complying. We still didn’t know about wearing masks, though.
Sunday, March 15 – Looking back, this was our last “normal” day – although things were already pretty far from normal. Zoe loved opening her birthday gifts in the morning. After lunch, we went horse back riding at Marmon Valley Farm, where everyone acted as if it was just a regular day and there seemed to be no crazy hoopla about Coronavirus. We had a lovely trail ride, then went to House of Japan for one final meal out before all the restaurants were forced to shut down and offer take-out only. It was an odd meal; there were few diners and everyone was talking about Coronavirus and what would come next.
Monday, March 16 – Then we started our first week in self-imposed lockdown – and our first attempt at distance learning/home schooling, which did NOT get off to a good start. E and I went out that morning to get a few more things at the grocery store, plus we voted together in the Ohio primary (and to support the OLSD levy!) The stores were packed – everyone keeping a safe social distance – but the shelves were empty. It was honestly a spooky experience and felt very apocalyptic.
One positive thing that happened that day was that I started our neighborhood’s daily bike club. I posted on our neighborhood Facebook page that we would ride every morning at 10 am, except in rain or snow, until the kids go back to school. I needed to have a sense of normalcy and figured this was something we could do that would still allow safe social distancing. Thankfully, many neighbors felt the same way and it’s been a great success.
Tuesday, March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day started out with good news: 10TV covered our neighborhood bike club! After that fun and happy occasion, however, the rest of the day was a sad one for our family. We knew Grandma’s condition was as bad as it could be, so E booked a flight to fly down and be with his parents. Just after dropping him at the airport, Z and I got the news that his mom had passed; we knew it might be coming, but we were still devastated.
I told Z she didn’t have to do any more school that week since she was in mourning. The start of home schooling had already been hard for us, and with Grandma’s passing, we just didn’t have the emotional strength to deal with anything else. We watched a whole bunch of feel-good TV together instead.
Wednesday, March 18 – We woke up knowing this was our last day with Verena, so after our morning bike ride, I went against the governor’s recommended “stay at home” orders and took the girls to Polaris mall. I thought we might be able to grab a bite of lunch to take home, but most of the food court and almost all of the shops were closed. The mall was absolutely empty – as deserted as a scene from a horror movie. We were able to pick up some of our favorite Mjomii macarons and some bubble tea from Bubbles; thank goodness for these local favorites still being open that day!
We also picked up a couple of cookie kits from my favorite home bakery business, Marna Cakes, and decorated cookies at home in the afternoon. It was hard not having E with us, especially knowing that he and his dad were dealing with such tough stuff in Florida, far away. Z and I struggled a lot with sadness and big feelings ourselves. It was a very hard week for all of us.
Thursday, March 19 – After our morning bike ride and a bite of lunch, it was time for Z and I to take Verena to the airport. It was a sad goodbye for all of us, and one that happened far too soon. The airport was desolate – almost totally empty. We grabbed some favorite takeout food from The Porch and then headed home to resume our self-quarantine with the dogs.
Friday, March 20 – Somehow, we got through that first tough week of isolation. Z and I were at max stress levels so in the afternoon, both of us tried our first remote/distance energy healing sessions with Paula at Footprints to Wellness. We both had great experiences with it and felt so much better afterward! I noticed a remarkable difference in Z and was so very thankful.
We picked E up at the airport that night and were so happy to have him back home with us. We are all still very sad about his mom’s passing.
Since that time, we three have been cocooning at home and avoiding interaction with anyone else. Verena made it home safely to Germany and is now in lockdown with her family there. We have been staying in touch with family members in California, Indiana, Florida, Thailand and Germany – and cherishing our bike rides with our neighbors while we maintain a safe distance. And, home schooling is getting a little easier every day.
How have you been dealing with our new normal and life in the time of Coronavirus – and was your timeline similar to ours above? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, over on Facebook or in our new Facebook discussion group.