My Thoughts on COVID-19

The Corona Times – May 28, 2020

by Jan Cavanaugh Graham

Photo of Jan Cavanaugh GrahamTrue, I have everything I need right here.  I have my husband and our two dogs. I have 20 acres of land to roam, equipped with all the spring ramps I can possibly consume.  I have a view that still amazes me, looking like a backdrop of an old movie set instead of real.  And that view is daily displaying spring again in slower motion than past years where I took a split second to say, Oh, how lovely, on my way to tutor or a lunch with friends.  And since it is 2020, I have all my smart TV can offer, stacks of books by my bed and on my Kindle.  I have social media, email, texts, and virtual anything, anytime.  I am hardly cut off from the world.  And like my mother always said, I have enough food here in the freezer and pantry to probably eat for a month or more; it may not be what I want or the best meal, but I will hardly starve.

But after realizing how much I have in regard to technology, entertainment and ease of life, I think it may be harder for me to stay home than it was one hundred years ago.  Our great, great, great grandparents who settled in the rural parts of North Carolina did not go much.  They had daily house and farm chores to occupy their days.  They hunted and harvested for food and maybe grew tobacco to provide for the few extras they might need from the country store within walking distance.  They worked from sun-up to sun-down, not thinking of getting in a car and heading out for a lunch date.  They relied on family or close neighbors.  And these neighbors took care of each other during sickness or shortage or tragedy.  In short, the rhythm of their days did not change often, except maybe Sunday church, and they had to count on the land, family, and close neighbors to survive.

Social isolation is a drastic change for me.  When someone said to me, via social distance of course, ‘I have been wondering how Jan Graham would do during this stay-at-home quarantine.’  I laughed.  I understood what he was implying.  I admit now, even a few years into retirement, that I enjoy ‘going’ and ‘doing’.  I volunteer, I join, I meet, I’m in.  Let’s do this.  And true to my personality of an ENFP, I love people.  Let’s play games, take walks, go out to eat, shop, talk and laugh and cry together.  So possibly since I am accustomed to this style of life, staying home is much more different and unusual for me and others in 2020 than it was in 1920. 

But I wonder:  Is it just old age or a government order or a truer nature in myself that has produced a noticeable shift in my personality and natural inclinations these past few weeks?  My last dinner out was at Snap Dragon on March 13.  And here I am at the end of May feeling pretty content to stay right here.  In my journal, I write ‘Day 72’ as I chronicle our social distancing from others and this unseen but well-known virus.  Other than the sporadic and necessary trip to the grocery store and a couple of social distance outside get-togethers with close friends, my husband and I have stayed put.

As a result, I have discovered a life closer to the earth and have adopted her rhythmic cycle that I suspect my forefathers knew all too well.  I awake early and nestle in when the sun sets.  I write, listen to bird calls, know the first evening of the peepers’ return.  I plant seeds and talk to the two little leaves that bravely take root and turn towards the sun in my greenhouse.  I watch the Clematis bushes with buds too many to count for the first one to burst into vivid purple.  I walk this land and visit the rushing river.  I plant and harvest.  I know when the deer births her twin fawns.  I clean out and clean up in the house or yard, but hardly worry about my own attire or hair.  How freeing this is.  And while I don’t have to work to survive, I do notice the waxing and waning of the moon, the sun and the rain, the life of this place that is home.  And this closeness to my sustenance is a remembrance of those who had to survive on this land.

The news is scary these days.  Many are angry that they are forced to stay home.  Many think it is their constitutional right and their definition of liberty to be able to risk their health, and the health of others, and get back to normal.  Experts and doctors have to answer to politicians, and politicians pretend they have the answers.  The death toll is rising but those roots need dyeing and those new tattoos beg to be etched into skin.  What will those tattoos say?  I survived the Covid 19?  Or not.

I worry about the ones who are not emotionally equipped to stay home, those with mental illnesses that are not able to handle this isolation, those who were already lonely who are now lonelier, those who have lost work and hope for feeding their family and paying their bills.  I know that these months will change everything and everyone, maybe for the worse.

But, ultimately, I am optimistic that these strange times that we are living in will teach us to slow down, pray and meditate more, be thankful for what we have and never take it for granted.  In our privileged lives, maybe we can awaken to a new awareness of neighbor helping neighbor, can open our hearts and minds to those less fortunate, and can survive without all the ‘going’ and ‘doing’.  We can sew those masks or deliver those groceries or share the bounty of our gardens.  The ‘Corona’ virus could usher in a new era of compassion, empathy, altruism, and self-reliance that may have been more present in a past simpler time and may serve us well in an uncertain future.

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About the Numbers

You will note a series of numbers contained in the blog. They document the spread of virus through confirmed cases by the federal Centers for Disease Control and by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. These are the official totals provided by state and local government at the date of the post and do not include estimates or cases not confirmed by these agencies. This is our effort to provide an accurate gauge of confirmed virus spread as it continues during the pandemic.

25,412

Cases in North Carolina
5/28/20

827

Deaths in North Carolina
5/28/20

708

Current Hospitalizations
in North Carolina
5/28/20

2,635

Cases in Western North Carolina
5/28/20

9

Cases in Mitchell County
5/28/20

110

Deaths in
Western North Carolina
5/28/20

1,698,523

Cases in the United States
5/28/20

100,446

Deaths in the United States
5/28/20