COVID-19 is almost a dirty word at my house two weeks into the stay at home orders begin rolling out across the United States. It's been two weeks of alternative work schedules, my husband going from two jobs to none, and the madness churned to life outside at every single grocery store. Chaos incarnate has descended upon our entire country, and planet. We're fighting for our lives, to protect our families, and over all things... toilet paper because we've been tossed in a world full of fear and uncertainty as the positive case numbers been to skyrocket around us. Even going outside for essential goods and services seems a daunting task because there are some out there who are living like everything is normal, but it's not.
This experience was jarring at first, but we are coping. Just like everyone else. As 80s babies, we've never experienced being told by the government that we couldn't leave our homes aside from the occasional winter storm shutting the state down. Yet, here we are with no sports, no forms of the usual entertainment, everyone is wearing masks and gloves, and even a simple cough from someone standing behind you in the checkout line is enough to send shock waves of panic to anyone nearby. We are living in a medical war zone now. The normal rules no longer apply.
Hospitals are overrun with cases, low on essential supplies, and are forced to watch this disease steal lives away from otherwise healthy people. Laboratories are begging for test kits and able bodied workings to process them. The shelves at your local grocery store are bare because people are panic buying months of supplies. The elderly are shuttered inside of their homes from the outside and terrified to step outside for fear of contracting the virus.
We live in a state of perpetual fear now.
I am considered essential at my laboratory, and continue to work, but I do my best to spend as much time as I can working from home when able. At first, I was frustrated with that designation because I fall into the highest risk category being immune-compromised. How dare my company insist that I need to work? That feeling only lasted a day as I saw millions of Americans, friends, and family begin to be laid off without pay left and right. It's a blessing that I can still work, and that my company has stepped up to the plate to help collect and process COVID-19 tests over the last weeks. But, not everyone is so lucky.
My husband is the prime example. Both the school and the church are closed indefinitely, and while both have pledged to keep paying him from the time being, the threat of the loss of such a large chunk of our income is still out there the longer this goes on to the point he started working for a local grocery store last week to make sure we still have something coming in. But in doing so, he's has to distance himself to protect me from anything he might have been exposed to on the job. He's had to give up going to see our two new godsons born this week to protect them. People like my husband are sacrificing their entire lives to protect those they love because it's the only thing he can do in times like this.
For others, it's not such a heartwarming story. There are so many families out there that have gone from income to nothing in just a blink of an eye. They are terrified about how to feed their families and keep a roof over their head. The agencies that can provide such help are now overwhelmed with the number of calls coming in begging for relief, and help is hard to find with other agencies like churches now shuttered. Our world is crumbling around us, and these people need the most help.
Despite all of the negative, I have to hope that once the threat dissipates that our world will be forever changed in a positive way. That we as a country, and as a planet, can use the lessons we have learned to help future generations avoid such chaos. It is the idea that maybe we as a nation can stand together in support, after social distancing ends of course, and turn this train wreck around to reunite like we once did after 9/11 and the previous wars. Is it a pipe dream? Probably, but in a world of such uncertain times, hope is all that we can cling to until the world rights itself once again.
Avelyn Paige is an Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY bestselling Motorcycle Romance author.