State Report: As of March 18, 2020, there are 675 positive cases and 16 deaths in California. Governor Newsome declares a state of emergency on March 4, 2020. March 19, 2020, the governor issues a Stay at Home Order.
Personal Report: This is day 9 of my quarantine. Yesterday, on our daily walk we see a roadrunner and decide that it should be my sister Josefa’s spirit animal. She loves to travel. But there is no traveling these days, she lives alone in the desert and today, March 19th, is her birthday.
I suggest to my siblings that we throw a virtual birthday party for my sister Jo’s 63rd birthday. My brother Kevin and his wife Sally are nurses, working in the trenches of this virus. Since they have to be at their hospital during the evening party, they videotape themselves singing Happy Birthday and send it early. Jo’s son, Johan, plays a birthday song on a violin and posts it from his quarantined cabin in Sweden. Someone asks, “Do I need to get out of my pajamas for this party?” At the appointed party time, four of us get on Whats App. We joke, laugh, cry, smile, sing, and play music. My brother Rick and his wife, Gia, are dining on her homemade risotto and salad. I can almost taste it. Next, they light a candle on a banana custard tart with chocolate shavings, sing, blow out the candle and eat the tart, while the rest of us moan in jealousy. After a while, I get off the party line so another sibling or family can join in. I snap photos during the party, so the joy can linger. We agree to try Zoom for the next gathering, so that everyone can appear at the same time.
After the party, I feel energized and full of joy, as I often do when our big brood comes together. I ask my husband to lead us on a guided meditation at bedtime, as I need something to help me wind down and get to sleep. As I focus on my breath, I notice the warmth of the dog’s body pressing against my right leg, hear waves of rain hitting the windows and smell a trace of dishwashing soap coming up from the kitchen. In my mind, I see my birthday sister’s big eyes crinkle with happiness and laughter.
The coronavirus has forced the whole world to stop and listen. I listen to skilled scientists spread facts and work on a cure. I listen to the latest news, so I know how to curtail my behavior for my safety and the greater good. I get mad at the bosses still making people work, when their work is not defined as, “essential.” My heart goes out to the medical field on the frontline and those who must suffer and die alone because their loved ones are not allowed to go near them. To be honest, this is my worst fear. Not so much dying, which is scary enough, but dying alone, which is worse. I want to say goodbye to my darlings. I guess that will be a gift of 2020 technology for this pandemic, that we can ZOOM not only birthdays, but maybe death days too.