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Letters From Home: 'We Are All Just Taking It One Day At A Time'

Photo of James Thomas
James Thomas
James Thomas has been reaching out to loved ones with emails, phone calls, and text messages to stay connected.

WOSU's Letters from Home collects stories about day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we heard from Ohioans answering the question: How have you created or maintained meaningful personal relationships? 

Read responses to this week's question and other reflections from Ohioans below.

James Thomas from Columbus

Since I'm currently unable to visit with my loved ones because of the whole "social distancing" thing, I've pretty much just reached out to them via emails, phone calls, text messages & things of that nature.

With all the crazy and unprecedented stuff going on right now, that task has certainly been far from easy, but my parents and I are just reaching out to our loved ones in any way we can since we are currently unable to do so in person. Granted, the whole “social distancing" thing makes that a wee bit difficult since we're all so used to face-to-face meetings with people, shaking hands and giving out hugs like party favors.

Like everyone else, we are all just taking it one day at a time and eagerly looking forward to putting this whole thing in the rearview as soon as possible.

Sharon Jones from Columbus

My circle of family and friends have always been small once I moved to Columbus in 1974. After almost 45 years of marriage, my husband died last year. He would have been a comfort to have during this pandemic. I'm thankful a woman that I used to work with visits me each day for an hour or so for company. After the first two weeks, I started inviting my two young granddaughters over on a weekend night, again.

As you get older, you know we're not invincible, that life is a cycle. You hope you can make a difference, even if it isn't noteworthy. All this talk of this coronavirus and measures to prevent it doesn't leave much room for living life to its fullest. However, plans for a flower garden, planting a couple of tomato plants and taking care of the lawn has kept my mind occupied, if only for a couple of hours each day, and pretend life is carefree once more.

Katie N. from Bexley

My personal relationships are a very small group of family members. I am a very introverted person, so the stay-at-home order hasn't helped me to create any new personal relationships. However, my niece was able to get Messenger for kids and I am able to talk to her more than ever! She sends me silly pictures and asks me to guess things that she drew.

My husband works from home now, so I am able to see him at breaks and lunch. He used to work a lot and I wasn't able to see him for more than four hours a day. We feel much closer now. I enjoy that we can get house projects done faster. Since there are less projects to do there are more nights and weekends to just sit, relax and talk.

I would like to get back to work to create new friendships. People come and go at my job, so there are many people to meet everyday. While I like being at home and keeping to myself, I find at work I can create friendships with people who are like me.

Cindy Gaillard and Brixie on a walk.
Credit Cindy Gaillard
Cindy Gaillard and Brixie on a walk.

Cindy Gaillard from Clintonville

Brixie was my best buddy for a long time. She was a rescue we adopted in 2009 with a sweet disposition who never chased a ball or played like normal dogs do. I kid that I she and I never spoke the same language because when I wanted to wrestle or picked up a frisbee for her to catch, she looked at me with her big brown eyes, totally uncomprehending what I was suggesting. I might as well have been asking her to play the piano.

Still, we found common ground. We walked every day, twice a day in the parks of Clintonville. I learned that she’d rather play with other dogs than me, and I tried not to take it personally.

What I learned from Brixie was to forget what dogs should do and just accept who she was at every changing moment: a dog who cuddled kittens, who walked slow and unrepentantly ignored my commands to sit, and who never once cared that I didn’t want holes in the clothes that sat in the hamper.

In March, as we all sheltered in place, I was grateful that through all of my personal chaos I could calm down with a few moments spent with Brixie. This year Brixie turned 14 years old and she absolutely knew how to take life one moment at a time – nap time, treat time, walk time, snuggle time – and just petting her helped me cope with the stress of managing and mapping our "new normal."

The first three weeks that we sheltered in place was the last three weeks of Brixie’s life. Know that her decline was not a surprise for she had multiple chronic conditions for which I served as her nurse for more than two years. During the first week of sheltering in place, I knew that the process of her slipping away was rapidly accelerating.

This isn’t a sad letter, although I write this with tears. I am grateful that during one of the most extraordinary times in history, I was able to spend extra quality time with my Brixie and build something special together: a loving goodbye.

We might have never learned to play with each other, but we sure learned to love each other. And her passing has made me reflect on making good goodbyes. How goodbyes are hard, yes, but also how they can be full of grace too. If we prepare for them. If we give them space. If we love our way through them. If we meet each other exactly where we are in each and every moment.

Cindy Gaillard is the Director of Local TV Content at WOSU Public Media.

Jordan Spencer from North Linden

In an effort to retain some sense of a normal social life, I, like many others, have taken to "virtual happy hour" meetings. I've never been one for video chatting - I've never Facetimed - but I've adjusted to this reality quickly.

It's so nice to be able to see each other and to talk through this strange time, talking about all the movies we've been watching or how we've managed to adapt our work to this situation. One of the best parts of these "virtual happy hours" is that at the end of the night, I don't have a bill handed to me! It may lack the hustle'n'bustle of a "real" night out, but the opportunity to kick back with a drink and good friends is even more important to feeling normal than I had realized before.

Rebecca Lowther from her farm in Knox County

I live in Columbus, but I have been isolating at our farm in Knox County for 6.5 weeks with my husband. It’s an hour’s drive home. I have been trying to maintain my “meaningful personal relationships” with my grandkids who are 7, 4 and 1. In the beginning of COVID-19, we babysat them full-time for two weeks while our daughter worked as a physician, and their father worked as a computer security programmer. Their school and daycare had abruptly closed, so we babysat while their parents worked.

Then, because of my daughter’s increasingly probable exposure at work, the children went to pandemic daycare to protect us, the high risk elderly. Now we Zoom, mostly unsatisfactorily. They are fascinated by the unheard-of access to the iPad, so they push buttons, stick out their tongues, make faces and run around until I have to look away or get motion sick. (Their parents, being good and thoughtful parents, give them very limited screen time so it is a novelty for them.). 

Next come the kids’ birthdays, two in May, one in June. Too cautious to go to stores, I order gifts from Amazon. I will open the boxes when we are home on a trash run, and wrap the gifts and leave them on the dining room table. Maybe by May 19, the 7-year-old’s birthday, we will be able to have an outdoor picnic. We won’t be able to hug them, but we will be in their presence, and that is everything right now.

Screenshot of Zoom call with Rebecca Lowther's grandchildren.
Credit Rebecca Lowther
Rebecca Lowther's been resorting to somewhat unsatisfactory Zoom calls to stay in touch with her active grandchildren.

Come join our conversation.

This week's prompt features the question: How do you feel about the reopening of businesses and services?

Answer the question using the form below, and try to keep below 1,000 words. Your response may be edited for length and clarity.

WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.
WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.