To say that so much has happened in 2020 is an understatement. To say that it hasn’t felt real, like this still feels like a dream, is an understatement. To say that life seems to hit pause button, that’s everything is frozen, is an understatement.
It doesn’t feel real.
When the outbreak first happened in Wuhan, China, in the end of December 2019, I was in China.
I was in Shanghai with my families—my elderly grandparents, my parents, my eldest sister’s family, and my husband— and we were enjoying our time together. We went to Disneyland, ate wonderful xiao long bao and dong po pork, and despite the logistic of traveling with two elderlies and two children under six, it was still the family holiday as I know it.
Fast forward a few months, and everything has changed. My grandparents are under strict quarantine (by us), staying at home at all times back home in Jakarta, and under no circumstances can they go outside or let other relatives visit them. All the necessities would be brought to them, but that’s it.
My eldest sister lives in Singapore, which currently has its own social distancing rule in place, and albeit the fact that she’s there alone (with her husband and two kids), we probably feel like she’s the safest among all of us, as Singapore has implemented the best measures so far.
Then there are my parents and my second sister’s little family—who are currently in Ballarat, bunkering down. We breathe a sigh of relief that my sister, who is a GP, thankfully is on maternity leave, and not on the front line of this pandemic. We do worry for her husband, who’s working on (almost) the front line, as are many of our friends who are health practitioners.
And here we are: my husband and I, who are in Melbourne, trying our best to do social distancing. Things escalate so quickly, and to be honest, I have been turning on the TV almost all of my waking hours, not to binge-watch Netflix, but to listen to whatever news being delivered in that hour. My husband still goes to work—there are talks of working from home, but for now, that’s not yet possible for everyone. It’s downright impossible for me to work from home, and for one and other reason I have been on leave.
We shall see next week.
Every day, no, every hour, there’s new development. New numbers. New rules. New fake news.
Then you hear the stories: people losing their jobs—their lives as they know it decimated in a matter of minutes. You see the images: people dying, at a massive rate, alone. There are shortages of medical supplies.
I had a short-stint scare yesterday as I developed a bit of sore throat. Could I have it? Or was it something I ate? I’ve been doing social distancing, staying at home most of the time, religiously washing my hands and using hand sanitizer when going outside. I recorded my temperature, a few times, and it was all normal. Yet I refused all physical contact from my husband for hours, and sat on opposite end of the sofa.
It was excruciating. I can’t imagine those people who died alone, without their loved ones saying goodbye, holding their hands.
I contacted my GP today and given the all clear, although just to be sure I’ll be staying at home for a few days.
I don’t know when I can see my niece and nephew again, even though I’ve just hugged them last Christmas, which now feels like years ago. I don’t know when the whole family can gather together again. I don’t know whether my grandparents will stick by the rules and take this with the utmost urgency—we can only remind them and talk to them regularly.
This too shall pass. I really believe in that. But when, I do not know. No one knows. And we may get battered and bruised along the way. Some will be more battered than others. Some may not emerge on the other side at all.
Stay safe, everyone. Be kind.
And stay at home.