I woke up with a sore throat this morning.*
I’m writing this at 5:30 in the morning. A few minutes ago, I woke up with a slight headache and a sore throat. It’s the kind of thing that I would have totally dismissed a month ago. I would have pulled myself together, taken an Advil, gone running with Purva and taught a day’s worth of lessons, never thinking about the sore throat again.
But these are not normal times, are they?
So I’m sitting in my living room drinking honey and lemon tea, trying not to freak out.
I can already hear what my dad and sister are going to say when I call them. “It’s probably nothing, and even if it is the coronavirus, you can’t do anything about it. Just stay home unless you feel like you can’t breathe.” (Yes, they’ll both say this. They might as well be carbon copies of each other with how they respond to medical issues.)
I am thinking through the past few weeks. Other than occasional walks, hikes and bike rides, I’ve basically been isolated from everyone else since school closed. But it hasn’t been 14 days, so there’s still a chance that I got the virus within that window.
There’s a much better chance that I have a simple cold. A much, much better chance.
But widows don’t do well with statistics, do we?
I’m not going to tell my kids that I’m feeling off, because they will just freak out. No need to scare them. They are already really jumpy when I say anything about being tired (because damn it is tiring to be home with them all day!) Every single day since we’ve been home, at least one of them will ask me if I think I’m going to die.
“No!” I always say, emphatically. “I am not going to die!” That response always makes Claire and Austin both smile sheepishly, like they know they’ve exposed their greatest fear.
But I am still scared, and not just this morning. It occurred to me yesterday that my plan of sending my boys to Grant and Mark‘s house, and Claire to Becky‘s house was not a very good plan. If I was sick, they likely would be too, and then I’d just be infecting two more families. So I called my friend Abby, who does not have kids, and I asked her if she would come if I got sick. “Only if I’m too sick to care for the kids,” I said.
“If you get sick, I’ll come up,” she replied. When I set down the phone, I cried, which I know was a bit silly. But clearly I’ve been under a lot of stress. Knowing that my kids would be okay was a huge relief.
So as I sit here, drawing out worst case scenarios, I realize that there’s a lot I’ve done to prepare for an unlikely outcome where I get sick. I have made my kids learn how to start the dishwasher and washing machine. I have stored plenty of food in the chest freezer, and taught Claire and Austin how to heat up dumplings and taquitos and other leftovers. Tommy has mastered brushing his own teeth and I have a “critical telephone numbers” list taped up on the wall.
This is the way that single parents plan, I suppose: For the worst-case scenario. I guess that’s because there’s no other option.
Every day we’ve been home, I have the kids write in our collective diary. I give them a prompt and they have to write a few lines each day. It gives me a bit of insight into how they are feeling and I figured that someday they’ll be interested to look back on it. The other day, I asked them, “what is the coronavirus and how do you feel about it?” Tommy wrote, “it is bad you can die,” which took him like 20 minutes anyway, so I figured that was good. But both Claire and Austin’s responses gave me some pause, and some reassurance as well. They talked about how the virus was scary, but also about feeling safe with our family at home, and happy that we were all together. “I feel prepared because my mom did a lot of stuff,” Austin wrote.
So, yes, maybe all my prep is for nothing. This sore throat is likely a cold and I am probably overreacting to this tiny tickle in my throat.
But that is what I do now that I’m a widow. I worry about the worst case scenario. I overreact to small dramas. I plan for everything.
In the end, I’ll probably live to be 95, and I’ll look back on this time as simply one in which I had a heightened sense that everything might go wrong, yet again.
But whatever. I’m glad I’ve prepared, if for no other reason than this: my kids are going to be okay if the worst happens. And they know it.
Now back to that honey and lemon tea.
*I wrote this on Tuesday. Yes, I’m feeling much better today. No, it doesn’t really change the sentiment of the post.