Author's Note: The global Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed lives and upended plans for millions of people. This piece is not intended to negate the indescribable suffering it has caused; rather, this is my perspective on growing through the trauma. For those who have lost, my heart breaks for you, my prayers are with you, and I believe in your ability to survive this. I have been incredibly lucky throughout these unusual times and I do not take it for granted. Remember that you are loved, you are strong, and this too, shall pass.
For those of you who don't know, my day job is working in emergency management and disaster preparedness. It's also what my graduate degree is in, so when rumors of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) began circulating in late January, my interest was piqued. I'd been reading warnings for years from infectious disease specialists to look out for "Disease X", an as-yet unknown disease which could (likely) jump from animal to human, and devastate the world, since we would have no natural immunities to it.
A month and a half later, the majority of the U.S. awoke to the severity of the virus, as cities and states shut down in a desperate effort to save lives and stop the spread. We all know how the next piece of this story goes: we entered into isolation, quarantined from one another, fearful of contracting the virus, and confused by the public messaging we received. Some communities escaped the worst of the pandemic, while others have become entrenched in death and suffering. As humans we did our best: we stayed inside, adapted our lives, and kept moving forward.
In mid-March, I packed up the two monitors and computer dock I use at work, grabbed some pens, and brought it all home to my bedroom, where I have worked ever since. My grad classes moved online, and all of a sudden, my dog was confused because I never left the apartment anymore. I'm in the minority lucky enough to be able to stay at home, to work from my apartment, and to only leave to walk my dog or for quick trips to the store. My partner was not so lucky - as a first responder, he continues to go to work every day, to meet and care for those suffering from the virus. As a family, we have done our best to adapt to our "new" normal: though at this point, it's not quite so new.
I was shocked by how many of the forced changes brought on by the pandemic I have grown to be immensely grateful for. In my situation, working from home means I can work longer and harder, freed from distraction, commuting, and the nervousness which permeated our office before we went to remote work. Taking classes online means, in addition to saving money on gas and time on travel, I can work at my own pace and devour information as it appears. Pre-pandemic I spent, on average, 10 hours a day at home - and at least 6 of those hours were asleep. Now, I can easily have lunch with my partner, or play tug-of-war with my dog, without worrying about time or scheduling. I've also reconnected with many friends, as we have sought out contact to try and stave away the fear of isolation and quarantine.
My inner introvert has never been so pleased.
Creatively, though initially I struggled, overwhelmed by the same trauma faced by millions across the country, I have flourished. I've finished my first book, begun meeting amazing fans and readers (like you), and settled into a comfortable rhythm, where for the first time in a long time, I feel like I can do all the things I want to do. It's been an immensely personal and powerful journey, and one that, in a strange way, I am grateful for.
And that's the uncomfortable truth of it all. Something feels so wrong about flourishing in isolation, as the rest of the world burns. When people ask how I am, I'm ashamed that my life feels as though it's going so well. I struggle for words that aren't true: "Oh you know, as good as someone can be at a time like this". But the reality is the I am good. I'm actually great. How do I say that aloud, when thousands die every day, and millions of lives have been ripped apart.
The last thing I want is to negate the trauma being felt across the globe right now; but, from the people I've spoken with, I think I have a responsibility to acknowledge and give voice to the fact that not all the consequences of this pandemic are bad. It is not taboo to be appreciative for changes that have happened. If anything, by ignoring the positive and focusing on the negative, the pandemic can wear down the human spirit.
I am grateful for the privilege I have which keeps me safe and lowers my risk. I am also endlessly grateful to those who risk their lives on the frontline - from doctors and police officers, to Uber drivers and grocery store workers. I am thankful for the opportunities I have gained and skills I have developed, and I am indescribably thankful for the gift of time which I have been granted. I plan to continue making the most of it.
Bridget is the author of Summer Twilight, available for purchase now!