Alberta Health has a phased-in approach to re-opening its economy after the Covid-19 lockdown. Last week my husband had his first haircut since March. I wasn’t going to attempt to cut his hair, both of us acknowledging my lack of prowess with handling scissors. So his hair sprouted with wild abandon over the last several weeks, and as soon as the barber shops reopened in our small town, he was one of the first to make an appointment.
He’s been the one out and about over these many weeks while I stayed at home. My cancer treatments last year left me with a compromised immunity, so I’m considered to be more vulnerable and at risk for complications if I should contract Covid-19. At least that’s what doctors tell me. So I’ve stayed home to stay safe and my kids and my husband have been diligently looking after my well-being.
I had thought once my second journey with cancer was over last year, and my energy started to rebound, I’d be able to return to some semblance of normalcy. Then Covid-19 hit. In some ways I have felt even more isolated, and vulnerable than when I battled cancer! In fact, when both my husband and I came down with a 24 hour bug a couple weeks ago, that had us both coughing and sneezing, I was convinced we were infected. It turned out to be allergies. Pre-Covid, we would never have given our symptoms much thought. However, now when we sneeze or have a mild headache, we get nervous. Paranoia is a terrible thing.
Normalcy, according to my husband is “a constant state of change”. Cancer last year, forced a new “normal” in my life as we adapted and accepted new realties. Our lives changed dramatically after my diagnosis. Plans changed. Daily schedules changed. My appearance changed. I am still dealing with the fall-out. (Did you catch my attempt at tongue in cheek humour there? 🤪) My chemo curls are just one of the many things I am adapting to in my new reality after cancer.
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced our country and the world to take extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, I can’t say I was particularly upset with the stay at home orders. In fact, in mid March, Alberta was still in the grips of winter, so it was like having an extended “snow day”. We curled up in front of cozy fires, binge-watched Star Trek episodes, and enjoyed the solitude. However, it wasn’t long before the endless snow days started to wear on us, so we did what everyone else was doing, we cleaned house! That led to days of sorting, organizing, and cleaning out closets, storage rooms, and garage. It was satisfying and productive work, but only kept us occupied a couple more weeks, and then we were looking for other distractions to pass the time. In the midst of all this, I felt an almost overwhelming sadness being separated from my children and grandchildren. I am blessed all my children live only minutes away from me, but that only accentuated the separation from them more. To be so close to them, and yet unable to be physically anywhere near them broke my heart.
I have come to abhor the term “social/physical distancing”. When it was first defined at the start of this pandemic, I thought it a necessary protocol to help prevent the spread of the virus, however it has now developed into a societal fear of proximity to people in general that I believe will have far-reaching implications long after Covid-19 is gone. Cases in point: my daughter recently got into an unpleasant verbal exchange with a lady in Walmart who yelled at her for being in the same aisle as her. The lady was determined no one could be in the same aisle with her. I guess she needed way more than the 2 metre distancing to feel safe. My sister-in-law was accused of stalking a lady because my sister-in-law happened to be following her around a store, while maintaining distance, but still needing to follow designated arrows to move about in the proper direction. Basically this offended the lady who didn’t like this “follow-the-leader” approach to grocery shopping. My husband has had several encounters with people who looked panicked if he happened to pass them even with the 2 metre distancing between them strictly adhered to. Breathing the same airspace seems to rattle people! It’s not unusual for people out for a walk to cross the street to avoid getting close to anyone else. It just saddens me to see fear in people’s eyes rather than a friendly smile of greeting.
I am concerned that physical distancing will be our new normal now, not because we need to, but because Covid-19 has made us fearful of having any human contact whatsoever. We will become a touch less society, where individuals will go to great lengths to avoid one another. We already interact with one another so much through technology, will conversing through social media, and video conferencing be even more prolific and more acceptable in our post-Covid world? Will that become our new normal rather than in-person, face-to-face interactions? Oh, I hope not!
I honestly don’t know what “normal” will look like in the next few weeks and months. Everything has changed in such a short amount of time, and it keeps changing almost daily. We have had to adapt to all the new health protocols. Businesses have had to change how they do business. Travel restrictions and safety protocols will affect future travel plans. Education and teaching will have to be modified to accommodate student’s needs in a post-Covid world. Churches and their leadership will have to adapt to the new challenges of ministering to people who may fear congregating together even after the pandemic is over.
It may interest those from outside of Alberta to read the current protocols churches must follow here in this province. (See Alberta health protocols for churches.) Take special note that we cannot congregate in groups larger than 50 people, children are not to attend kid’s church or be in nurseries, and there are to be hand washing stations, as well as numerous other safety rules we must follow in order to meet in our church buildings. We can’t perform Baptisms, take communion (Lord’s Supper), or participate in congregational singing at this present time. Oh, and no sharing of food! As a Baptist, the idea of no potlucks is truly discouraging. 😁
Seriously though, this is our current reality. It’s a whole new normal, and it takes some getting used to.