Panic

 

Things are bad.

Have they ever been worse in my lifetime?

Nearly half a century has passed since I entered this mortal coil.  A screaming bundle of organs, bones, skin, flesh and blood…knowing nothing, a blank canvas, no hopes but no fears.  Innocence in physical form.  Ready for the life that was to come.

Highs.

Lows.

Little in between.

But nothing like this.

I’ve read all about it.

Calmed the fears of others.

I’ve even managed to appear calm at home.

All surface.

Being brave.

What else can you do at a time like this?

Wash your hands.

Work from home.

Society is crumbling.

That’s not right.

Society is fracturing.

The old things, the familiar things, the usual things are already beginning to slip into the pages of history.  By the time this ends, whatever that means, things will be very different.  A change is gonna come.  This is no clenched fist revolution, no righteous uprising but is, instead, a change being forced upon us by something we cannot control and that we don’t really understand.

When the announcement was made to close the schools I decided to pull my daughter out of school immediately.  If school wasn’t safe in two days how could it be safe today.  Then I began to realise that once school closed that her whole life was going to change.  Not for the better.

We go swimming together two or three times a week.

Not now.

We go to the cinema every Saturday and Sunday morning.

Not now.

We like to have her friends over to play.

Not now.

The pools are closed, her dance classes are cancelled, the cinemas are closed or will and someone we know in the medical world thinks that play dates may not be a great idea…especially if you work in front-line services or have a health condition that makes you vulnerable.

Some countries are in a state of near absolute lock-down.

“That won’t happen here”

But people were saying that about schools six hours ago.

At seven she is going to be out of school for several months…kept distant from play and friends and routine and the space she needs away from us to aid in her development.

Innocence corrupted.

Over dinner she talked about maybe wanting to go into school while it was still open.  She wasn’t upset.  She wasn’t anxious.  Ah, poor you with youth on your side.  But I heard her.  She wants to squeeze these last moments of the only life she has known, wants to be in the playground laughing and running and jumping and screaming and falling.

And I felt the tears well in my eyes.

Felt that I was failing her.

I can’t protect her from this.

I can’t give her the life she knows and loves now.

Oh, I know.  I know.  The thing itself won’t hurt her, children are the lucky ones here in so many ways.  This will all pass…eventually.  But I am her father and I want her to be safe and secure.  I want her to have a childhood.  All of it.  Now that, even if only for a while, has been taken out of my control.

So I left the dinner table.

Went out to buy ice-cream.

Before I got to the end of the road I was sobbing.

Sobbing like I am now.

You think this is ridiculous.

An over-reaction.

I’ve fallen victim to media hysteria.

Wash your hands.

Work from home.

But I can’t help but feel things are not bad yet.

Can’t shake the feeling that worse is to come.

My parents are self-isolating, my mother is recovering from pneumonia…when will I see her again?  When will my daughter hug her Nonna again?  My dad is my best friend, when will I hug him again?

I’m a vulnerable person, an auto-immune condition.

No.

I know.

I’m not going to die.

But the broken mind can drift to places it shouldn’t.

Give yourself a shake.

I have a home, I have a job that is secure, I have a beautiful (in so many ways) wife whom I love and who loves me, I have a daughter who has taught me what joy there is in selflessness, I have friends I adore and I have 24 toilet rolls…and four bags of pasta.

I need to wash my hands.