Being confined, locked down, and isolated, and in many cases, entirely alone, is an enormous new challenge for all of us experiencing it. It affects us all, in every country, in every walk of life, from every kind of background, in every kind of job. This virus respects no one, and affects us all. Being in solitary confinement is a very new experience for me, and has turned my favorite place into the biggest challenge of all. My work as a writer is solitary, but there’s a big difference between choosing to be solitary to accomplish something, than to suddenly be isolated in a lock down situation, and being deprived of the people and places and activities which we enjoy and so easily take for granted. We have to sacrifice those things now for a short time, for the safety and health of the entire world. We take both our freedom and our health for granted—until suddenly we lose them, or they are seriously at risk, as they are now.
I realize when I think about it, that I have never lived alone. I married at seventeen, and went from my father’s home to my husband’s. My oldest daughter was born two years later, and from then on, even once I was no longer married, I was never alone again. I always had my daughter for company. And when I married again, and eventually over time during an 18 year marriage, became the mother of nine—there was never a moment of solitude—far from it!!! And with a house full of kids, ranging from teenagers to infants, there wasn’t a chance that I would live alone for a long, long time. One by one, they grew up and many left, to college, jobs, and other cities. And I’m lucky enough to still have my youngest daughter living at home. So pretty much since I was seventeen, I’ve never lived alone, and by some weird quirk of fate, I wound up a continent away from all my children during this pandemic, and now under lock down, I find myself alone. The hardest part of the confinement is—-of course, worrying about my children, and the threat of illness for us all—-but a huge challenge has also been facing a hard experience with no one to share it with, to talk to, to bolster and reassure me, or my being able to take care of and reassure them. The solitude makes it a thousand times harder, and the worry about my kids. And for the first time ever, I am resoundingly alone. My kids are in other cities and countries, and the country which has given me a happy second home for so many years is now the location of my greatest fear, solitude and loneliness. It gives me new compassion for people who live alone, even when we are not in a pandemic. And perhaps the lesson I needed and will learn now is how to live with that solitude with grace, and be better because of it, when this is all over. Maybe each of us will learn something during the crisis that we needed to know, and would never have learned otherwise.
For everyone’s sake, I hope that everyone will comply with the rules of their confinement, and follow them, I pray that people will be safe and rapidly regain their health all around the globe. And I hold out my hand and my heart now to all of you living through this hard experience alone, with no one to talk to, or make you smile or laugh, or reassure you that things will be okay. Things WILL be okay, We will survive this, and we will learn the hard lessons and the easy ones from this. This won’t last forever, and we will be free again and reunited with our loved ones, the people we cherish, our loved ones, families and friends. And until that sweet reunion, even in the silence or loneliness of the confinement, it is for the good of all, to deprive the virus of the connections and contacts it needs to make us sick. Let’s starve the virus out of existence and stand strong. And from now on, I will have even greater respect for people who live in solitary confinement in normal times. I wish you grace and peace wherever the confinement finds you, for the lock down that goes so against the grain, since as people we all need ‘connection’ with people who are like minded, whom we love, can talk to, and make us laugh. Give us the strength, to get through this hard, frightening time, with patience, courage, wisdom, perseverance and poise. We CAN do it, and we will. May God bless you, and all of us, at this very challenging time.