Blogging in a Pandemic, Part IV: It’s Getting Too Real

I’ve written a series of posts over the last five or six weeks to record the experience of living through the pandemic, trying to find some good news among all the darkness. Writing them has been therapeutic for me, and from the responses I’ve gotten, I know that they’ve resonated for others. I am, however, finding it harder and harder to find the light in the darkness. But I am trying.

The last two weeks have made it harder because the virus has come to my community with a vengeance. Many people have died, including the mother of one of my dear friends and the sister of another friend. Our local nursing homes have been ravaged, including 21 deaths in the Jewish Nursing Home near us. Other friends have had loved ones become ill with the virus. I live in dread of hearing that my mother or someone in her memory care facility is infected. My anxiety level has increased to the point that most of the things I was finding helpful—long walks, yoga, Zoom sessions—are becoming less effective.

And the rush of some to resume “normal life” even though it means risking more lives, including their own, is infuriating, as are the actions of those who are putting political ambition and money above the health and well-being of people.

But I know we are among the very fortunate ones. We have a safe home, resources to pay for what we need, food in the house and delivery services bringing more as needed, and, so far, our health. We have the support network of our children, our relatives, our friends, and our community. We have each other. I am always mindful of that.

My three cats are a real source of comfort; they are oblivious to what’s going on outside, and they only care that we are here to feed them and to pet them. They cuddle up next to me day and night and give me some peace.

And little things make me smile. Our neighbors drawing hearts on all the driveways and leaving painted stones on all the doorsteps and paper flowers taped to our windows.

The discovery of more places to walk where we can avoid close contact with people and enjoy the quiet of nature continues to be soothing.

The weekly Shabbat Shalom zooms with family are a needed break from the constant talk of COVID19. Who cannot smile when a five-year-old wants to play Twenty Questions by Zoom?

This week my younger daughter was celebrated by her friends on what would have been Marathon Monday with cards and posters and a bottle of champagne. I can’t tell you how much that meant to her and to us.

There is so much love out there, and the best of human nature can outshine the darkness of illness, death, and the suffering of so many.

One small example from my genealogical activities. While all this has been going on, I’ve connected with a few more cousins who found me through my blog. I think people stuck at home are turning to family history for consolation and also are uncovering photographs and letters that were buried in boxes or trunks in their attics and basements.

One of these cousins sent me scans of some photographs of my Benedict cousins, including this terribly torn photograph of Hannah Goldsmith Benedict, the first cousin of my great-grandfather Isadore Schoenthal:

I was thrilled to receive this photograph—a definite moment of joy. But heartbroken that Hannah’s photo was so damaged. Could it be repaired, I wondered?

I posted it in the Free Photo Restoration group on Facebook, and when I woke up the next morning, three group members had posted repaired versions. Aren’t they amazing?

These people obviously spent a great deal of time fixing this photograph and asked for nothing in return. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It made me smile, and it reminded me once again that most people are kind and good and generous and loving.

I need to keep all these reminders in front of me as things outside get scarier and scarier.

48 thoughts on “Blogging in a Pandemic, Part IV: It’s Getting Too Real

  1. Dear Amy, it is so sad to hear of the many deaths in your community. I’m glad to hear you are still staying home and keeping safe. I can’t seem to be able to write a post about this stressful time and haven’t posted in two weeks. I’ve also noticed an increased interest in family history and have heard from people who share common ancestry with me. Several AncestryDNA matches contacted me the same day. The kindness of people gives hope for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • it’s odd, isn’t it? Just when we are making all these new connections, we don’t have the motivation to write about it. I still have about five weeks of prepared blog posts, but this morning I didn’t even have the heart to post one of those. Sigh. Stay strong, stay healthy, Cathy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have never had more than one or two posts ready to publish. I’m seeing people who haven’t blogged in some time are now posting on a daily basis. I wonder if this is healthy? Or where is the happy medium?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I normally am about a week or two ahead at least with writing the post. Then I have time to edit, add images, and fix the citations. This backlog is VERY unusual. I think I was having a big spurt of energy in the early weeks we were quaranting, and now I am just burnt out. No real desire to go on to the next relative. I am hoping that once I get closer to the bottom of my pile of drafts, my compulsive nature will push me to go on again. For now I just don’t have the focus or the motivation.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Echoing many of your thoughts on what is going on. I was troubled to read of how close it is hitting to home, with the loss of family of friends and the anxiety with your Mom. It actually got me thinking about my own children and how they might be feeling about us. So thankful we have zoom and face time and all the wonderful apps that bring our long distance families into our homes. Your fur babies are so precious. I too have connected with 3 cousins through my blog this past couple of weeks and I agree with your thoughts on that. The photo turned out amazing Amy ~ love our photo restore groups on FB. they are truly artists with in their craft! Stay well and safe and I’ll be holding your Mom in my thoughts.

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  3. Amy, I would have loved to repair the photo for you. But your friends have done a superior job on this badly damaged picture.
    The key to keeping up the hope for a better time is what you wrote. I felt your statement was so important that I repeat it in my comment: There is so much love out there, and the best of human nature can outshine the darkness of illness, death, and the suffering of so many.

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  4. I’m so sorry to hear your community has been so affected by COVID…and hope your mum remains healthy. Our cats are a great comfort for us as well, though I’m not sure how they’ll cope when I go back to working outside the house!

    Very cool that your blog has attracted more cousins – and it’s great the photo restorers were able to work such magic!

    Stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

      • We have been fairly lucky so far – only a couple of people seriously ill enough to be taken to Vancouver for hospitalization. Most have been staying home as much as possible. I go into work every couple of weeks, and work from home the rest of the time – that’s what most of us are doing.

        We are a fairly isolated community (accessible only by ferry or float plane), so it does help.

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      • It’s so beautiful out there. We were in Vancouver a couple of years ago—drove from Seattle where we’d visited friends, stayed in the San Juan Islands a couple of days, and in Vancouver for three days. Stay safe and healthy!

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    • I am indeed in the Bay State and have gained a new appreciation for Governor Baker. I hope he remains steadfast in his wisdom and doesn’t fall prey to pressure from those higher up in rank in his party.

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  5. Hi Amy, it’s heartbreaking how so many people have been affected in your community. The photo restorer’s did a fantastic job with Hannah’s photo, how exciting to wake up to that!
    We’re just sitting it out across The Pond, waiting for the situation to improve. I do wonder if life will resume as normal afterwards but somehow think not. Great photo’ s of your cats. Our furry friends are such a comfort to us too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it will take a very long time for things to be back where they were, for better and for worse. Perhaps all hygiene will improve and there will be fewer contagious diseases in general. Perhaps people will continue to take long walks outside. On the other hand, I think the custom of handshaking, kisses, and hugs will disappear (except among family members) and people will continue to be very wary of being too close to others. And I think technology will permanently change how businesses and people communicate. Fewer business trips, fewer business lunches and dinners.

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  6. The photos are amazing – I’ve found people in that group to be so helpful. I had someone reach out to me via Ancestry asking to connect about my 2x great grandfather’s brother whom I know little about. She provided her e-mail, I responded, and now nothing. Maybe he/she is having as much trouble concentrating as I am. Stay safe, Amy!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, Amy —  something that has helped me feel good and has also helped the country: I turn off my router (wifi) … (radiation ) – every night —– this helps my brain, my physical body, everything —   AND —  because there is a concern that the internet is on overload — being used 24 hrs. a day —  by turning tech off at night it is helping to prevent a possible USA blowout. Who knows?    …  It can’t hurt ! All the best,jane strauss

    janestrauss.weebly.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jane. I do put my phone to sleep at night. But I am not sure turning off the wifi will matter. It will just mean one more thing to remember each night and morning!

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  8. It does sound a bit scary in your community. My mother is also in memory care in Oregon.

    That is such a sweet message from your neighbors – so thoughtful!

    Having furry friends really is a blessing. And “new” cousins, too. I just made such an acquaintance this week. We talked for an hour after I called them out of the blue. Fun to make the connection like that and forget stressful things.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Here we have been fortunate because we had extra time before it came to the Midwest. So the death toll has been minor compared to the coast. However the elder care facilities here have also been hit hard. As for blogging, my stress level has been so high I have not been able to relax enough to write. But I am hoping to this weekend. The restored photo I’d wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have found this kind of writing very helpful, but am struggling with doing genealogy research.

      Massachusetts has the third highest number of cases (and deaths) in the country, so it’s not surprising that we have been so affected. Most of the cases are in the Boston area (90 miles east of us), but there’s so much travel back and forth that it was inevitable that it would get here. I hope your area continues to be spared anything major.

      PS I saw your FB post about leaving your house. I hope you blog about that. I bet it will help you to write about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am so sorry to hear the virus has got so close. I hope your mum stays well. There have been so many small kindnesses amongst the madness and I hope that we can remember these and rebuild our communities with more positive values in the months and years ahead. Thinking you you and your whanau (family). Kia Kaha; stand strong.

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  11. The kindness of strangers is truly inspiring. Hannah was such a handsome woman. There is such strength in her expression and the light in her eyes. It would be worth it to display it or have someone paint her picture!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love all the positive things that you did end up posting about. You mentioned kindness of cats, of family members, of neighbors, of friends, and of strangers. I don’t know if you realize that but you covered it almost in that order I think. 🥰🥰🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not sure what that means about me—that I value cats over all else, I guess. What does THAT mean? I guess it’s just another sign of what am introvert I am? Or maybe it means I value kindness of strangers over all else? That’s even stranger!

      Liked by 1 person

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