If you’re still taking this seriously, you’re not alone

Tonight I am making a huge amount of manicotti with fresh herbs, garlic bread and salad, and a fancy cake decorated with melted candies meant to look like flames. Three of my daughters have new dresses and shoes, and there are wrapped presents waiting for them. What’s the occasion? Oh, nothing.

Really, nothing. Three of our kids were supposed to be confirmed tonight, but one of them has a cold. Probably. Or maybe it’s COVID. The protocol for school is to stay home if you have fever, congestion, cough, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, or basically any other symptom, and then either get a negative COVID test, or else stay home for ten days after onset of symptoms, as long as no other symptoms develop. Come to think of it, Damien and I both have colds, too. A confirmation Mass is definitely long enough for us to pass along whatever it is we have to someone else. Even if it is not COVID and it’s just a cold, we might give it to someone who then feels the need to stay home from work for ten days or fourteen days until they find out if it is COVID, and maybe that would be a huge burden for them. So we’re staying home, and no Fisher kids will be confirmed this year.

But I’ve been confirmed, and so has my husband. The gifts of the Holy Spirit we received are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, and we’re calling on at least three or four of those to make this decision. We don’t really think we have COVID, but if everyone made decisions based on letting themselves wiggle out of protocols, then we’d  . . . uhhh . . . we’d have a pandemic on our hands. Yeah. 

I’m not trying to persuade anyone to take the virus seriously. I see people in town claiming no one’s really sick, that touchless thermometers are frying your pineal gland, that masks are part of a satanic ritual, etc. etc. You can’t talk to people who believe this stuff, and I’m not even going to try.

Instead, I’m talking to people who do take the virus seriously, and are starting to feel insane, because they feel all alone. The sourdough togetherness fest is all over. No more evening balcony concerts; no more friendly baskets of sanitized books and treats for the housebound. People are wearing masks when they’re absolutely forced to, and they’re not COVID deniers, but they sure aren’t acting like anything much has changed. They’re going to parties, sneezing on produce, having sleepovers, hugging friends. I see it every day.  That waitress who sent our son into quarantine for over a week was spotted hanging out in crowded bars while she waited for her test results to come back. Maybe she heard that people her age are just hard wired to be sociable, and it’s just not reasonable to expect people in their 20’s to modify their behavior for the sake of others. And anyway, she eventually got a negative, so what’s the big deal?

You see and hear enough stuff like this, and you can really start to doubt yourself. Is it really necessary to miss out on so much? Are we being a little bit paranoid?  Are all these efforts even doing anything worthwhile?

Hello. I see you, as they say. You are not alone. You are doing the right thing. I don’t even have any great words of encouragement for you, because I’m feeling pretty beaten down, myself. But I’m here. We’re making these assessments every single day, and we’re missing out on all kinds of stuff, because we think it’s the right thing to do, and we’ll keep on doggedly doing it as long as we think it’s necessary.

So if you’re making these wretched, unpopular choices and feeling completely alone, you’re not. There’s always the friggin’ Fishers doing it, too, feeling stupid and paranoid and discouraged, but still doing it. So there’s that. I’d make you some garlic bread if I could. 

And that’s all I got. Come, Holy Spirit. Come get some garlic bread, because I made plenty.

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33 thoughts on “If you’re still taking this seriously, you’re not alone”

  1. Love this, thanks for putting yourself out there on this! We’re still home too. We opted for virtual learning for our 6 and 11 year olds. Wondering about how your kids have handled being in school? Wearing masks, socially distancing, lunch seating, p.e.?

  2. Thank you thank you thank you. I am very tired of all of this, and the not normal way of things. I see lots of people somehow pretending it isn’t what it is…and it makes me wonder if I’m being crazy. Except I want every day I can have with those I love, and I don’t want them isolated and alone or sick because we were careless.

  3. We are careful to wear our masks and try our best to maintain social distance.

    I have to say that we have accepted some risks too if they were reasonable enough. I filled in for a friend who is a front line worker, but needed to be home the first week of school, while awaiting test results after being exposed. (Try telling five-year-olds they can’t touch you or the kid next to them.) Even with the best intentions six feet was impossible. What do you do when you are eating your lunch and a tiny little face peers up at you asking you to peel their tangerine? In one uncomfortable instance, my husband picked up a house cleaner when she needed a ride. She lives in a brown neighborhood where 1 in 5 have it. Poor people need to eat, and don’t have the luxury to stay home. We have gone to outdoor restaurants that are a bit too crowded for comfort. My heart breaks for small business owners, and I’d like to help keep them afloat. Transmission outdoors is rare.

    Yesterday, my little girl was interviewed by a CBS reporter on the street in San Francisco . She was asked how she felt about mask-wearing. What a sass-bucket. She said, “of COURSE I wear a mask! What kind of a KAREN would claim they have a right NOT TO??” The reporter laughed.

    I was delighted to see that San Francisco is coming back to life again. Like Santa Barbara, they are getting very innovative, and the streets look so festive with all the new outdoor dining rooms decorated so ingeniously. Silver Linings.

    1. Totally agree Anna Lisa. I feel much safer with outdoor activities, and we have done some outdoor dining as well as ordered take-out from local restaurants to help them stay afloat. I love that story about the interview with the pro-mask little girl!

      1. Lol 🙂
        Hi Claire, I hope you guys are well! Is your little boy taller than you yet? 🙂 My little girl Charlotte is still a skinny little shrimp, but makes up for it with sass. She somehow has a tik tok account. I’m sure that has something to do with it.

        It is a beautiful day here. I guess that this new fresh air has something to do with fall coming. Even with wildfire smoke, the mountain air here smells 100% better than down south.

        This whole Covid thing reminds me of a massive “time-out” lesson. with the new CDC report last weekend I’m regretting all of the time I spent at Ross and Target last weekend :(. I also regret buying a bunch of cloth masks since they say they don’t work as well :/.

        Which is all provoking my own inner-Karen-ire. The newest subjects of my outrage are the people who talk loudly on the phone with airpods in while they shop. How dare they. The nerve!

        1. Hi Anna Lisa! He’s been taller than me for over a year, but that’s not saying much because I’m only 5’2! Unfortunately, I weigh more than he does! We’re homeschooling this year. Initially it was just going to be for a year, but we’re liking it so much (so far) that it might end up becoming a longterm lifestyle change!

          I’m so sorry for what you’re going through with the wildfires. I’m glad you’re okay!

          1. Thank you for being lovely Claire. My Mom is 5′ 2″ also, but we all tremble before her. I think I am more afraid of her than that little spikey golf ball virus.

            Thanks for being concerned about us burning up! I don’t think I’ve quite come to terms with it yet. I’m thinking that the warnings of God always come slowly, with plenty of time to prepare. I keep hearing this tiny voice in the back of my head that all of this is prep for the next God-chapter.

            Be well!
            Pax Christi

  4. In NYC, most people are on board with masking, social distancing, etc. We had a terrible spring being the epicenter and the Federal government leaving us to die. All day I would hear ambulances going to the hospital near us. I stopped my work and prayed each time I heard a siren and it stopped the flow of my work.

    Our parish had many people die.

    To Anne, I say that we are resolved to do what we can to avoid Covid until there is a vaccine. You don’t want it and you don’t want what it can do to your heart and brain. Do people not understand this can kill and main you and those you love?

    1. Andrea, I live 2.5 hours north of NYC, and what went on down there broke my heart. And it enraged me that people could make light of it, minimize it, deny it, compare it to the flu, you name it. NYC was transformed into a war zone, and our governor had to scramble to get ventilators and PPE, bidding against other governors, because there was no unified federal response. A friend of mine does medical reviews for an insurance company, and she said by the end of the day she would have chest pain after reading report after report of people who came through the ER alert and talking and ended up vented within a couple of hours. And don’t even get me going on the refrigerated trucks needed to house the dead bodies due to the morgues and funeral homes overflowing. I can’t even imagine what it was like hearing the sirens all day long. It’s disgusting that government officials across the country didn’t learn from what happened in NYC, and instead failed to take precautions so that their regions ended up being hot spots that could have been prevented. I’m with you. I can sacrifice a few more months of socializing to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself during the upcoming winter months. That being said, my heart also goes out to anyone whose job has been impacted by this and/or has been impacted financially. If those of us who have more flexibility can make sacrifices, and anyone who has the capacity to work from home does so, it will help the national infection rate to drop enough it will be safer for more businesses to reopen sooner.

      1. Claire thanks for your comment and solidarity. It breaks my heart that we haven’t learned from the experience in NYC and done what was needed and get this under control. Why are we still in a slow moving train wreck 6 months on when other countries have it under control? We are bleeding out economically and medically, still.

  5. Thank you for this, Simcha. We have also still been taking this seriously and being cautious. I’m pregnant with baby #5 and was absolutely shocked, though, at an appointment with my OB last week, where she trotted out lines about the low death rate, how the coronavirus has been overplayed, how masks are so ineffective, etc. I’m new to her practice since we moved from a different state last summer; she’s Napro-trained and I actually feel like the care I’ve received from her practice is the best I’ve ever had, far better than in my previous pregnancies (also with a Catholic, pro-life OBGYN practice). I don’t feel comfortable looking for a new OB so late in this pregnancy, especially since I’ve required a lot of monitoring of various issues this time around. But oh my, I was truly shocked and disappointed to hear such misinformation coming from a doctor.

    In response to the commenter above about when people who are taking things seriously might consider relaxing some precautions — this baby is due around Thanksgiving, and I don’t anticipate taking her (or going myself) to any large or even medium-sized social gatherings until at least next summer, mainly because I don’t trust other people to make good choices right now. We’ll have a long winter and spring hunkered down at home as a family.

    1. Wow Rebecca, that is so disturbing that your doctor is spreading dangerous misinformation, and unfortunately this is a trend I have seen with prominent faithful Catholics who I otherwise admire. That’s why I’m so thankful for Simcha, because she shows that yes, there are faithful Catholics who are capable of taking this seriously and rather than turning it into a political issue. Best wishes for a safe delivery and recovery.

  6. I’ve always stayed home from Mass if I was sick – it’s called being a decent person, whether its the flu, this coronavirus, or any other virus. I suppose it’s good that we are starting to come to consensus on this issue.

    You may want to ask your Pastor to confirm your kids at a later date. Many pastors are getting dispensation from the Bishops to confirm themselves these days.

  7. Good for the Fishers! COVID-19 gives us the opportunity to participate responsibly in civil society. Sure, I’m afraid of contracting the virus, but I’m more afraid of passing it on to someone else. Wishing you health and an excellent meal.

  8. This is not asked with any snark or disrespect, just a genuine curiosity … for those of you who are taking the kinds of precautions mentioned above (not referring to mask wearing or “sneezing on produce” (does anyone actually do that?)—- rather, foregoing social situations, quarantining when maybe being around someone who may or may not be positive, not allowing kids to go to sleepovers, etc.), what is the end game? When would you you feel more comfortable returning to some sense of normalcy? Is it when a specific percentage of positive cases are reached? When there are zero cases? When a vaccine is available to the public? Since the likelihood of this virus ever being completely eradicated is unlikely and even flu vaccines which have been around for a long time are not 100% effective, I am curious when a feeling of safety will return for some.

    1. That’s a really good question, and one my husband and I have talked about a lot. For us it’s a number based decision based on cases and hospitalizations in my city. We expect we will have to “do this” (make choices about exposure level) for another six months or so. I guess we see it as a sacrifice for the time being for long term gain during a global pandemic.

      I don’t think the economy should shut down. I think it’s up to each individual to recognize the possible repercussions of their actions.

      There are things we are more comfortable with- interacting w one person in an outdoor setting. A short haircut. One on one tutoring for a kid.

      A large-ish indoor gathering- no, I don’t feel that’s a prudent decision for my family. And it’s been good to talk with my kids about why we are making certain sacrifices right now (like not having a birthday party) so that our actions will not have a negative effect on the doctors and nurses that are fighting the virus.

      It’s hard to feel we are alone-ish in this thinking. There have been SO many good things that have come from doing less and having less commitments, it makes me almost sad for everyone that has gone back to normal. There is a joy and simplicity in this time and new blessings to be found.

    2. I live in a state with a low infection rate; it has been under 1% for over a month. If the infection national infection rate were that low, I would definitely feel safer doing things like indoor dining, indoor Mass, small indoor gatherings with family and friends, etc. But because I don’t live on an island, I’m not willing to take those risks knowing that people from states with high infection rates could be anywhere. I also want to wait and see what happens to the infection rate as the weather gets colder and people have to head indoors, schools are reopening, etc. If we get through the winter and cold/flu season and our infection rate remains low, and the national infection rate comes down, and there is a somewhat effective vaccine, along with improved treatments for Covid, then I would start increasing my activity. I know my governor would monitor the infection rate as the activity increases, making it easy to see what risks are worth taking. Currently I’m happy to socialize outdoors (mostly without masks if I’m able to maintain adequate distance from people), I do quick grocery trips and essential errands while masked, I go to outdoor Mass, etc.

      1. I also want to add that I’m not mainly worried about contracting the virus myself. I’m not exactly young, but my husband and I both have strong immune systems, and I’m reasonably confident that we would be okay if we got the virus. I’m more worried about me transmitting it to someone else, particularly my son with asthma or my 80 year old mother.

    3. As an ER nurse, the current plan is to modulate rates of transmission so as not to overwhelm the ICUs especially as we come into flu/respiratory season, and then see what we have in the toolbox when that wanes.

      It’s not just about mortality, but about morbidity. Cardiomyopathy. Stroke. New onset Type 1 Diabetes. Clotting. Erectile dysfunction. Neuropsych issues including hallucination and acute suicidal crisis. Peripheral sensory loss. Inflammatory vasculitis in children resembling Kawasaki disease.

      There is so much we just don’t know- and influenza doesn’t cause this kind of lasting morbidity, so comparing COVID-19 to it even in the “it may become endemic seasonal like other viruses” shows me someone isn’t looking at the whole picture.

      I have a friend who got it. 30s, no comorbidities. Still has lasting fatigue and sensory loss. Still has shortness of breath. We had a small group BBQ and fixed his car on a Saturday. Nobody was ill. He called on Monday- sick, positive COVID. Fortunately, it seems he was exposed by someone in his household after he left our home… but we all 2 week isolated anyway.

      This is about SO much more than “but low death rates” or personal chafing with restrictions.

  9. Thank you for saying this… we must love each other to get through this, and those who prefer rumors to logic and science are choosing themselves over others.

  10. Thank you for this. It feels like almost everyone I know is eagerly resuming normal life and socialization with the barest nod to superficially taking “precautions” when they are absolutely forced to; I definitely feel like the odd one out these days. It’s nice to know I’m not totally alone.

  11. We hunder down and we wear masks because we care about others. We accept the responsibility of acting for the common good. I appreciate people like you and your family who take this responsibility to others seriously. You are teaching your children to love their neighbour as Christ loves us! Blessings!

  12. To.ta.ly. Thank you. There is enough about this virus that makes me say “ya know, those doctors and nurses are working super hard, my city was bringing in more out-of -town nurses, there was strain on the hospitals ”. I’m going to do what I can to reduce the burden on the health care workers. I’m going to put off things I would like to do, for their sake, and find new things to do that are in line with actual social distancing. Am I going to get sick and die? Probably not. Should I fear death? No. Could I pass this on to someone who is not yet ready to die- possibly.

    It doesn’t really feel like many people are still doing this, but this is how my family has decided to live during a global pandemic and I know (and already see) God bringing good out of it.

    1. Thank you, Simcha. Unfortunately people are getting very lax. A family we know had a huge retreat at their home over the weekend… we drove by and saw at least 100 cars. By all outward appearances they seemed to be taking this seriously… but wow. We weren’t invited because it was for Spanish speakers only, but I am very nervous for that community.

  13. A. Breath. Of. Fresh. Air. Thank you so much! You’re right, it’s not the deniers who make me second-guess myself, it’s the people who believe the pandemic is genuine and still ditch the precautions. (And you’re also right that there is no talking to the deniers. How sad that so many faithful Catholics have bought into this.)

    I am so sorry about your three kids having to have their Confirmations postponed.

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