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September 22, 2020
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Part one: Life behind the closed door

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
March 27, 2020

If you are on social media, you can’t help but see snippets pertaining to the fears, beliefs, emotions and reactions to the various Shelter-in-Place orders. In California, they are no longer county by county; Governor Newsom imposed them statewide. Some folks still believe it’s an overreaction while others just as firmly believe we are not doing enough. 

There are plenty of reliable sources to guide you, including local newspapers like ours. Like many, I’m also working from home, complying with Shelter-in-Place orders. I am aware of how this pandemic and that order has impacted me. But it’s not about me, it’s about us. So, I decided to start a series of articles based on the impacts of the current times through the eyes of others. My suspicion is we’ll find many common threads, similar feelings and shared fears.

My first interview was with an individual who is in the at-risk population by age. She is almost 72 years of age and resides in Rohnert Park with her son and dog. She is on limited income, having recently lost her partner last year to a long-term illness. She is in good health and has her own home. She has mortgage and HOA payments to make, as well as the usual expenses of daily living. I want to thank her for sharing her story with me and you. I’m sure many of you will be able to relate to her story as if she were your mother, grandmother, sister, or friend. She is part of our community and sharing her story, I hope, helps us all with ours.

What has changed for her? Initially among the group of folks who thought we were making too big of a deal about the virus, she no longer feels that way. In our discussions, it was clear it wasn’t about her, causing her to change her mind. She’s lived a long and productive life and felt if it was her time to go, she could accept that. Then she stopped thinking about herself. She shifted her focus to how devastated she’d be if family or friends caught the virus through her getting seriously ill or even dying. So, the first big change was her mindset. Other changes included cancelling an out-of-state trip to visit her daughter, restricting her local trips to necessary grocery runs and just walking her dog while practicing social distancing. Non-critical medical appointments for her family have been cancelled or postponed.

Her biggest fear is the impact on the economy and how it’s going to affect people. Losing jobs, unable to pay bills, taking large hits to their retirement funds and other cascading impacts that will occur. Ultimately, she fears more damage will be done long term by that, then the actual virus. She is also frustrated with younger people, who are still partying or refusing to shelter in place. She says they don’t realize that anything they catch can, and will be, taken back home to their families and friends including those in higher risk categories then themselves.

Of course, she doesn’t enjoy having to stay in the house. After the loss of her partner, she was just finding her way as herself, figuring out what would be the rest of her journey. Getting out to church, social activities with friends new and old and thinking about getting back in the work force. All those things had been placed on hold while she took care of her ill spouse. She mostly misses the in-person contact with her family, especially her great granddaughter who often visited with her. She also often assisted her grandson’ family with childcare duties. She misses the weekly services at her church and regrets the loss of Easter services and community activities.

Yet it’s not all sadness and frustration. She has seen some silver linings during these difficult times. She’s learned to use Face Time to stay in contact with family and maintain her connection with her great granddaughter. She’s gotten more proficient on her laptop, bringing up various games, news sites or other applications to help pass the time and minimize fixating on the drum beat of virus news. She is using social media to share information, reach out to her circle of friends and make sure they too are okay. One thing she especially likes about the current times is “seeing everybody pull together again.” She hasn’t seen that type of behavior and community support since just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Neighbors looking out for each other, especially checking in on seniors and other shut-ins. She hopes once the pandemic passes, that this type of behavior won’t fade too.

If you’re interested in sharing your story with me, you can contact me at cassandra@thecommunityvoice.com