The Weight

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Everyone is struggling in the midst of this virus; the quarantine, the isolation, the wages lost, the race to find food and supplies, the disconnect, the fear.

Our generations have never seen anything like this pandemic. The contagion, the mortality rate, the country’s response, the states of emergency… it all seems like a sci-fi movie.

Non-essential businesses are closed, some by choice, some by law, some because they can't survive the financial losses. Millions of working adults are now unemployed. Families are trying to survive on a shoe-string budget. People left wondering how they will make their next mortgage or rent payment, or keep the lights on, or heat their homes. The economic climate is heading towards another great depression. Our way of life has become something that we do not recognize, something foreign.

Couples have no more personal space. Parents are forced to become teachers. Children are stuck at home with no playdates or trips to the mall. Senior students are missing out on prom and graduation, on what should have been some of the best times of their lives. Visiting your parents is out of the question. Social activities are a thing of the past.

Young parents pull their hair out as their children go stir crazy. Teens try and cope with the fact that they can no longer hang out with their friends. Older adults wearily care for aging relatives in their homes. Couples try not to kill each other.

And in another home, just down the street or somewhere across town, is a person who would give anything to hear the screech of a toddler, the whine of a teenager, the complaints of an elderly grandmother, or to feel the touch of a lover’s hand.

But they are tough. They live alone, so they’re used to it. They comically call themselves hermits. They say- “I’ve practiced ‘social distancing’ for years, I’ve got this!” They’re professionals at being alone.

And yet, ironically, they feel the weight of loneliness more than anyone.

They sit on the couch and watch every news update. They stare out the window at the flock of birds who have come back from a winter away. It makes them smile and think- I should go outside. But there is a heaviness in them, now. And they stay where they are.

They look around and think- I should vacuum those dust bunnies, catch up on laundry, wash that mound of dishes that I’ve somehow allowed to form.

They think- get off this computer. Read a book. Watch a new show or movie on Netflix. Turn off the news. They think- I miss my kids, I should call them. I should call my mother. I should reach out to someone, anyone.

They know they aren’t taking care of themselves. They think- I should go take a shower, brush my teeth and my hair. I should go for a walk. Take a bubble bath.

 They think- I should go to bed, it’s late. Maybe I’ll just keep watching tv, and fall asleep here on the couch. What does it matter, anyway? Or they think- I should get out of bed, the sun is rising. At least, I think that’s the sun… maybe it’s just a streetlight. What time is it? What day of the week is it? When did I eat last, or get out of these pajamas? I should get up.

But, the weight.

They are doing okay, they really are fine. Because they’re professionals at being alone. Besides, the weight makes for good company. The weight is their new roommate, their significant other, their child, their family.

They’re no longer alone. They have the weight.