It’s been eight long months since the onslaught of Covid-19. Eight long months since this disease descended upon us. Eight long months since this deadly plague changed our lives maybe forever. When I wrote my first blog about the pandemic, I was just settling into a new routine to avoid coming into contact with the virus and had no idea that eight months later there’d be no end in sight. So what’s it been like for someone like me with a medical condition who is at high risk? Who suffers from severe, chronic asthma? Whose immune system was partially destroyed by a tick-borne disease called Anaplasmosis? Well, I can summarize the experience in one simple word.
Complete and utter isolation.
I’ve been living totally secluded from the outside world with my wife, Amy, and my Golden Retriever, Bailey, on my mountain in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where we have no neighbors, no visitors, and rarely see friends and family. I can count the number of times I have left my home in the woods on one hand. Literally on one hand. I’ve been out to see my doctor twice, to see my dentist twice, and to attend a friend’s seventy-fifth birthday brunch where three couples enjoyed each other’s company outdoors on a back porch, in masks, and socially distanced. That’s it, and except for an occasional excursion in my car with my wife as she does our weekly shopping, I don’t go out.
So what have I missed during all this time I’ve been stuck at home in self-imposed isolation?
I haven’t seen my brother or my sister or Amy’s family—including my ninety-four-year-old mother-in-law, Lola, who I just adore—not once in all these months. We’re all close, very close, and I miss them all terribly.
I’ve been a bit luckier and have spent a little time with my children but not very much. I’ve seen my older son, Aaron, and his family—his wife, Lindsey, and my three adorable grandchildren, Zoe, Eli, and Tilley—once over the summer, when they came to visit for a long weekend. I had a wonderful time. A really wonderful time. I played with Zoe who’s nine and Eli who’s six and spent three glorious days getting to know Tilley, who turned one this past September. But it was only the third time I’d ever seen Tilley, and I haven’t seen her since. So I miss her terribly. I miss them all terribly. Watching the kids grow and change. Catching up with my son and my daughter-in-law. Feeling the love and warmth of my family.
I’ve seen my younger son, Alex, and his fiancée, Lauren, a little more often—two or three times since the pandemic began. In fact, they actually moved up here to the Berkshires over the summer to get away from the chaos of the disease in New York City and rented a house for two months not too far away from where I live. So I got to see them on and off during that period. Then they spent a long weekend here at my home during the fall and are scheduled to return, once again, for another long weekend over Thanksgiving. But with the surge in the virus that is now gripping our nation, we’re taking it day-by-day and hoping we won’t have to put our plans on indefinite hold until there’s a vaccine, because this disease is insidious and possibly deadly for someone like me, so we all have to be diligent.
So what do I do to pass the time as I wait to resume my life?
I spend hours each day writing. I just finished a draft of my fifth Ethan Benson thriller, Full Live Rehearsal, and have started planning my next novel tentatively titled, Live to Camera One. I read voraciously, one novel after another. I go for daily walks in the woods. I exercise. I binge watch television, do weekly zoom calls with friends and family, and spend all my time with Amy, my best friend and the love of my life. She helps me stay happy, content, and healthy as I wait, as we all wait, for a vaccine that will free us from the horrors of this terrible disease.
So that’s what I do. That’s what we all have to do. We have to be careful. We have to be diligent. And we have to take care of ourselves and each other—wear masks, social distance, self-isolate—until it is safe, once again, to resume our lives and look to a brighter future.