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Well, we’ve reached the point in the continuing saga of us all being under house arrest where I’m so bored, I’m going to start writing again.
Since I have told younger writers for decades that “writers write,” meaning that whether you’re working or not you need to write something regularly, it certainly makes me a bit of a hypocrite. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say; it’s just the “Groundhog Day” similarity of the days has left me in a “why bother?” mood.
The irony in all this is that for many years I was a road warrior, traveling the country as a sales executive. I used to have two daydreams I’d employ to make the time on a flight from one side of the country to the other go faster: One was what I’d do if I won the lottery, and the other was what I’d do if I could have an entire month to be able to just stay home with my wife, daughter and dogs and not go anywhere.
I’m now living the second one, although it’s a little different when you add into the equation you CAN’T go anywhere. But the lack of a sense of urgency does change things. Want to wait another hour and sip on another cup of coffee? Heck, wait the whole day and drink an entire pot of coffee.
The evenings may be the worst part of it, as with no live sports, I really find myself wondering why I’m paying Comcast $267.18 per month. I buy everything they offer in addition to Netflix and Amazon Prime, and aside from an occasional movie and a rerun or two of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, nothing interests me.
This all ends up pushing me onto Twitter, where people completely capable of being nice, civil and respectful, explode into toxic hurricanes of rage when the subject of politics arise. I try to avoid it if I can, but I’ve ended up instituting two rules during the shutdown: I respect your right to an opinion on anything, but if more than 50 percent of your posts in a given day are about politics, I temporarily unfollow you. If you take it up a notch, however, and consistently post things that indicate anyone who doesn’t see things the way you do is an idiot or worse, you earn the privilege of being blocked.
Sports used to dilute some of that. But with no sports, I find if it weren’t for posts about dogs – of which I contribute a fair share – it would all be negative.
To get away from Twitter, I am now spending more time texting friends. That has its own inherent dangers, as if you text someone you haven’t normally communicated with in some time, the first response is “what’s wrong?” Once you say there’s nothing wrong, then they usually volunteer something that IS wrong, asking “did you know (fill in a name) passed away?” I have learned of half a dozen people whose company I used to enjoy in the last week who are no longer with us.
Those aren’t the ones that bother me the most, however. It’s the ones that tell of a loved one a friend is dealing with who has become terminally sick. Because of the virus precautions, those friends can’t go to the hospital and see those loved ones.
This is my worst nightmare.
I guess when you get to be an old geezer like me, you stop worrying about dying. I’ve been wonderfully blessed in my life, there’s not much I can do about it any way, and all you can really do is live each day to its fullest.
What I do worry about, however, is dying alone. When it’s my time, I want to be able to see my loved ones, tell them goodbye, squeeze my wife’s hand one more time and tell my family I love them.
People can’t do that right now and to me that’s the most awful part of the entire ordeal. We’ll all get back to work one day. Sports teams will once again start playing and get back on the field. Heck, there will even be toilet paper on sale because there’s so much inventory one day.
But the chance to say goodbye will be lost forever. Which makes me appreciate each day and reminds me to say what I need to say now.
I’d encourage you to do the same. I will offer a word of warning that if you’ve been married to the same woman for 40 years like I’ve been, be prepared for some interesting responses. For several mornings this week I’ve made a point of telling my wife I love her. One day I got back a “I love you too…most of the time.” Another day it was “what did you do wrong?”
But I said it. Even texted some friends with a similar message. I’d share their responses, but right now my only thought is “I need to make better friends.”
So if your life is going OK, appreciate it. If you know of someone struggling, reach out to them, which I will acknowledge is not that easy. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve made a good living choosing the right word for the right situation when it comes to writing or speaking. But even with that expertise, I know of no words that can bring a person comfort when dealing with the death of a loved one, no matter how hard you search.
One day many years ago I came into work and a co-worker had tears streaming down her face. She had just lost a family member and I didn’t know what to say. Rather than even try, I walked up to her as she was seated and facing a computer, put a fresh cup of coffee on her desk and gently put my hand on her shoulder (which these days would probably get you reported to Human Resources). Then walked away.
Years later she one day told me how much she appreciated that. “You didn’t need to say anything,” she said. “What you did just told me you were there for me. That’s what I needed.”