Pacing a Pandemic

I had my first friend unable to be with a dying family member due to Covid-19 quarantine.  She experienced the heart-wrenching agony of her loved one dying alone and compounded by the realization that she will be grieving alone too.  I have no words to offer beyond a profound sadness for her and her family. I think this may be the first of many of these stories in our lives.

When my best friend was dying, I made a promise to her to never leave her alone.  And I didn’t, even after her death as her body laid waiting for the mortuary. Now I recognize what a gift I had in that experience and how fortunate we were that she died then, rather than now.

In the midst of the Pandemic, I have few answers about where I am and where I am going.  I do know that my hobby of ultra-endurance sports has helped me to pace this experience.  I am enduring by keeping my business, Bloomington Bagel Co., open. The question at the start of the Pandemic was why keep it open when so many restaurants have closed?  Because I can continue to employ our COO of 20+ years, provide daily bread to the community and donate food to our hospital.  

I recognized early on that this would be a marathon rather than a sprint.  I needed to decide on a schedule that we could do for months on end. In the final analysis, I went with closing all stores except one that has a no-contact order and delivery system through a partially closed garage door.  I decided we would only be open five days a week for four hours. Between baking, dough making and service, our day would never be longer than eight hours.  

We just finished our first week and it worked.  We now have two days off for recovery and preparing to roll again.  I think people appreciated our focus and commitment to the community and I am grateful for the mission it has given me.  Plus I am able to drop off food at my family and friends’ houses to show them love in the time of physical disconnection. I am also grateful for my family and friends that come to the garage doors to see us and catch up.  It brings me joy and hope.  

I do worry, that ultra-endurance sports may have taught me that I don’t know when to quit.  I question my decision to stay open. It would be so easy to let it all slip under the water.  And perhaps it is time to say goodbye after 20+ years. The letting go is unfathomable knowing the agony and grief waiting on the other side.  But not today, Satan!

Last night I zoomed with the sweet idiots from my college field hockey team.  The disconnect of physical distancing continues to drive a need for connection in ways we have all lapsed.  Our vulnerability is the foundation of our need to be present, to exist, to say I love you again and laugh. Technology provides a myriad of opportunities to hear others tell us they love us too despite our foibles, choices, contradictions and the messiness of who we are.

In the end, I will continue to pace this like my training right now; consistent, steady, focused and determined.  Life is about more than surviving and right now I will continue to focus on accomplishing one impossible thing at a time.

Oh and in case I didn’t mention it, I love you too.

No easy way. 

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