How are you doing? How are you holding up? What have you been up to during the last 2 weeks?
I picked my last day at work as the starting point to start writing down my thoughts about the current situation. We gotta start somewhere. But most of us have been dealing with the ramifications of the pandemic longer than that.
My last day at the office was on March 16. By then, it was clear that Canada was gearing up to deal with the pandemic. You could feel the tension in the air. Not yet thick and heavy, but slightly uneasy.
Hubs and I had already stocked up on groceries the week before. "Pral gen yon kouri."* We instinctively knew.
We talked about how growing up in Port-au-Prince somewhat prepared us for the upcoming confinement. Shopping for groceries in an overcrowded store. Lining up at the drugstore to get enough medication to last my mom a month. Filling up our car with gas. Just in case. In case of what? We don't know. But we come from a place where things don't always go as planned. We're accustomed to being stuck home for an indefinite period of time. Coup d'états. Embargo. Random kouri**.
We knew we could handle staying home. We'd done it so often in our youth. Plus, we didn't really have to worry about powered outages and access to water. Things we had to deal with during times of unrest growing up.
But nothing prepared us, or the world, to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude.
We dived into the news, trying to understand what we were dealing with. A new enemy. We sanitized surfaces. We washed our hands (as we usually do). We ate all the snacks.🤦🏾♀️And bought some more...
I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. I felt like a useless spectator watching the world unravel. The flaws in every system were exposed. Big companies crashed as though they didn't have a safety net. Millions joined the ranks of the unemployed. The number of deaths related to the disease kept climbing.
I went on a news break. Yeah. That quickly.
My tipping point wasn't the day they confirmed the first case in Ottawa, the city where I work. It wasn't when I knew things had taken a turn in Quebec, the province where I live. My tipping point was Haiti.
It'll always amaze me how my heart will always bleed, skip a beat and thaw for my homeland.
I had a short conversation with my sister. She's a pediatrician and works in a public hospital. We talked about limited resources and leadership—nothing new there. We talked about her plans to weather this deadly storm. We talked about the boys, my nephews.
That night, I cried a tearless cry. Curled up in Hubs' arms. Unable to articulate my emotions.
Working from home gave me the structure and sense of normalcy that I needed to take my mind off things. Not forgetting, but distracted enough not to constantly chew on the same thoughts.
I built a piece of furniture. I baked a cake. I watched too much TV. I listened to music. I danced. I smiled. Laughed even.
I lived while others were suffering.
In the face of tragedy, don't we owe it to ourselves and to others to live? I don't have the answer.
During the past 2 weeks, I've experienced survivor's guilt like never before. I'm slowly coming to terms with it. Two things can be true at the same time. I can genuinely be saddened and concerned by the current events, while celebrating a loved one's birthday.
How about you? Are are you dealing with all of this?
*Loose translation: There will be unrest; people are going to panic.
**Literally: run. Figuratively: unrest; the image is that of crowds running (away from something or in panic).