Family Magazine

Treading Water

By Sherwoods
It feels like a wave has swept across the world.  When the wave was far off, crashing across China, followed by Iran, and then Italy, we knew that it would make it to us eventually.  But until the wave actually crashed over our heads, life continued on as normal with the crashing coming closer every day.
As the wave washed over us here in Tashkent, the excitement and turmoil of the tumble kept us all occupied.  Would we stay or go?  Who was staying?  Who was going?  What will happen?  How will the local government react?  What new restriction is there now?  How long will this last?
But now the wave has passed us by and we are still in the water, endlessly treading.  
I, thankfully, haven't had many medical emergencies, with most of my time in hospitals involving childbirth.  A few children have had procedures and hospital stays, and each one has had one thing in common: waiting.  Medicine is a whole lot of waiting surrounding short, intense moments of action.  Even having a baby is mostly waiting around for the grand finale at the end.  There's a reason I stock up on good books before an anticipated visit to the hospital.
This pandemic has the same feel as any other medical situation: a whole lot of waiting, filled with a lot of uncertainty.  There's nothing most of us can do, and nobody knows how everything will turn out, despite the days of online reading we've all done.  
In the wake of the wave, the waiting has resolved into a daily pattern that looks a lot like what we did before a world pandemic tumbled us out of normal into something else entirely.  Some days, after finishing up thirteen hours of the exact same schedule I followed a month ago, I entirely forget that the world outside our walls is entirely engulfed in pandemic.  The remembrance hits me like a blow, with all the stress, fear, and uncertainty rushing in to overwhelm the domestic tranquility that exercise, meals, school, and childcare have given me.  
Having moved enough, I know that after three to four weeks of anything new wears the newness off and life has a new definition of normal.  And so, after three or four weeks of rarely leaving the house, seeing nobody but my family, and spending every date night at home, life will have taken on its new, quieter rhythm.  We will always have been treading water and we will always be treading water.  Nothing but water in sight.  
And then one day - and nobody knows when that day will be - the water will being to recede and the bottom will appear again.  Eventually dry land will appear and we will remember what it is to walk instead of swim.  It will be strange and awkward at first, but we'll remember how to do it quickly enough.  We'll all look around and exclaim about all the things we had forgotten.  How strange it is to walk freely about!  It feels so incredibly wrong to be around people!  Parks have never looked so wonderful!  It's great to ride again!
Some things will be exactly the same and some will have changed, swept away by the currents surging around us as we were treading water.  We will exclaim over the differences, be grateful for the constants, and then get used to the new shape of the landscape and get back to life.  
But for now, it's treading water.  For however long that lasts.

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