The age of isolation

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Right now, introverts and homebodies all over the globe are feeling a little guilty. Over the years, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought to myself, “I just wish we had a few days off and we didn’t need to go anywhere or do anything or see anyone, and we could just catch our breath.”

And now here we are – with more than a few days off, with nowhere to go and no one to see, as per the guidelines of the federal government.question-mark-2405202_640 (2)

“Did I do this?” says the little voice in the back of my paranoid mind. Is this one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments gone horribly wrong?

Ironically, this extended time at home isn’t helping us catch our breath or relax as much as I thought it would. News of the deepening public health crisis has triggered a spike in anxiety. Every time someone in the family clears his or her throat, I notice. I worry. I put my hand on a forehead to check for fever.

If I feel a muscle strain, I analyze it to make sure it’s not a body ache. When I reach for a blanket on the sofa, I wonder if it’s just a draft I’m feeling or a more ominous chill.

Am I being silly or symptomatic?

Odds are, it’s probably nothing. But my family is being extra cautious not only because it’s the right thing to do for the community but also because we’re under the same roof with my parents, who are in the high-risk group. I even postponed my haircut appointment, which a middle-age woman does not do unless absolutely necessary. I’m literally sprouting grey roots as a symbol of commitment to the greater good.

And you know those projects I told myself I’d get done if only I had enough time at home? They’re still waiting. Why? Because pandemics are distracting. Every time I get started on my work (which thankfully I can do from home), my mind starts to drift: Where did I put that bottle of Purell? Are the kids washing their hands enough? Maybe I should disinfect the doorknobs again. Are we already out of milk? Wonder if Walmart has toilet paper today.

But I also know things could be far more distracting than they are at our house. Having been there myself, I know the parents of babies, toddlers and energetic elementary kids have a much higher level of distraction right now. Years ago when our three kids were little, I remember times when I hid in a dark closet to try to sneak in a business call – fearing that, at any moment, the door might fly open and a half-naked toddler would loudly announce that he dropped his Hot Wheels car in the potty.

There are so many hard-working parents of little ones who are cooped up with chaos on a daily basis, desperate for a little time alone. Hang in there, mamas and papas.

This is also a good time to remember the people who cannot work from home and who are going to jobs that desperately need doing – people restocking barren shelves, delivering food, veterinarian professionals caring for sick pets, people preparing medical prescriptions for pick-up, checking people in at doctors’ offices, food bank and blood bank employees and of course the vital paramedics, police officers, and firefighters who rush in to help, regardless of where the virus may be lurking. We are beyond thankful for each one of them.

And if you’re the praying type as I am, I hope you’re also praying for the world’s health care workers, who don’t have the luxury of waiting out this pandemic from the safety of the sofa. Many of them are leaving their families at home each day so they can fight on the front lines of this viral war. They are the heroes of this historic time we’re witnessing. They need prayers for their safety and for their success in saving lives.

There are so many in such great need right now. If ever there was a time for “praying without ceasing,” this is it. Stay safe, my friends.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at Her book is available on Amazon.

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