Pandemic Memories

One day, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a friend said to me, “I hope you’re journaling because you’ll forget a lot of this in a few months and most of it in a year.”

With the future in mind, I kept a legal pad on my desk and jotted down what was happening and how I was feeling during the strangest days of my life.

My notes begin with the afternoon my company sent everybody home. I was in disbelief. Is this really happening? I wanted to go hug people, but I guess that wouldn’t be wise. So, I gathered a few things and walked out the door. I spent the weekend trying to regain my bearings. I’ll be working from home next week, but for how long? What if my company fails? It took me years to find a job I love. I might never get to go back.

In the following days, my notes were fearful. As people got sick around the country, and the death toll began to rise, I thought about losing my parents. What if one of them dies alone? What if my wife gets sick? My daughters are only nineteen. Will they be okay if they get it?

Eventually, fear subsided, and I began turning my thoughts to things I must do. I was on a roll at work. My productivity increased. I took more breaks than I ever did at the office. Every single day I got up early, made my bed, showered and got dressed. My routine was healthy and consistent and it included getting plenty of rest and sunshine. I began reading more and I got my bike down from storage and rode it nearly every day. I reduced how much news I watched. I posted only positive, inspiring things on social media, and I stayed away from the endless political debates that never resolve. I reached out to people. I set up Zoom calls. Even some of my old high school buddies reunited online.

As the days stretched into weeks, I dove deeper into my faith – not out of desperation or fear – but out of concern for my soul condition. John Eldredge says that the mad pace of life and the endless information coming at us every day is damaging to our souls and it prevents us from receiving all that God has for us. Frankly, that scares me more than any virus.

I spent more time with my daughter Megan than I have since she was a toddler. We made banana bread, twice! We ordered take-out to support local businesses. My wife and I did puzzles with her. We played games, went on bike rides and watched movies. We took our new puppy for walks and we made lots of SONIC runs. Simple things. Not every moment was good. There were times I felt alone, and I got super tired in the middle of the day (probably coming down from a sugar high from too many trips to the kitchen). There were times I woke up and the new reality hit me hard. I miss people. I miss hugs. I grieved.

But overall, this pandemic was a needed pause. I don’t think God brought it, but He certainly used it.

March and April, 2020. I had this new space; we all did. There were no sports, no crowded bars or restaurants, very few opportunities to “get out.” Some filled that space with empty things. Guided by faith, I made wise choices. I let it change me.

May I never forget.