Going in Style

So, what was the biggest event this past week?

May the 4th (be with you) Day?

Cinco de mayo?

Dutch Liberation Day, also on cinco de mayo?

Your results may vary, but the biggest event in our household was none of these: It was testing positive for COVID-19.

And so we have passed the week: sleeping, head-aching, coughing, wince-swallowing, sneezing, lethargizing, turning up our noses at food, dragging ourselves out of bed and back into it, lying awake in a state of general crumminess and completely justified self-pity, collapsing into chairs after two full minutes of standing, whew, and enduring wakefulness in periods supposed to be for knitting up the ravelled sleeve of care. Not that COVID cares. Or has sleeves.

We are not yet firing on all cylinders but we are gradually recovering and I expect that progress to continue. And here’s the moderately interesting thing: While I know exactly when my symptoms started and when I tested positive, my return to health will not have a ta-da moment. It will come bit by bit until, sometime soon, I will realize that I am no longer coughing, that food is worth the bother, that I am interested in watching curling on TV, and that I can go up the stairs without counting the cost. Bit by bit I will have completely picked up my pre-Covid life.

In this way — and in this way only, I hasten to add — infection and wartime occupation by a hostile power can be similar. That is, the onset of trouble is often easier to date than the relief from those troubles.

Germany invaded the Netherlands on 1940 May 10 and within the week had occupied the whole country. The official German surrender came five years later on 1945 May 5, the day now celebrated as Liberation Day, or Bevrijdingsdag. But the liberation, while it absolutely deserves a day set aside for celebration, was not a one-day wonder. It was a bloody awful 8-month campaign from 1944 Sep to 1945 Apr in which more than 7,600 Canadian soldiers died. I have trouble grasping numbers like that, but it’s as if an all-boys school lost a whole classroom of graduates. Every day. For eight months.

Sometimes in life we slide insensibly into trouble but come out suddenly: surfacing, gasping, after snoozing off in the bathtub.

Sometimes trouble announces its arrival with a smack up the head and it’s the full-and-final end that slides quietly past instead. It can be worth the effort to mark that end anyway, to celebrate it somehow. The troubles keep on coming. When we can, let’s see them off in style.

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13 Responses to Going in Style

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    I was at a local get-together cu Pub Night a little more than a week ago. Hardly anyone wearing masks. Four days later, 18 people had come down with enough symptoms to test positive. There must have been a super-spreader somewhere among us. I — hallelujah! — had two negative tests. My sympathy on your suffering.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Thanks! Glad you dodged this bullet. “They” do say now that we’ll all get it sooner or later — definitely go for later!

  2. barbara carlson says:

    So — both you and Big Guy? Or, is this the Royal We?

    I always like the way you can put personal problems in context. To most things, there is a beginning, middle and end, but when we’re in the middle, you are right to remind us of the (eventual) positive ending to celebrate, and if it doesn’t turn out so good — it’s not the end, as the old saying goes.

    P.S. I have your Mystery Box ready… just shout when you’d like to come over and get it. 😀

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Yes, bofus. Or would that be three, then? 🙂 As for context, it can help to get even a little altitude.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    So sorry that you encountered, at all too close a range, Covid.
    Here’s top a speedy journey back to normalcy!

  4. You have my every sympathy. Feeling wretched seems in the moment to be an almost permanent condition. I am glad you are feeling even slightly better, and I hope that continues.

    Your analogy of the boys school is a frightening way to bring that statistic into our emotional being.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Many thanks. Onwards and upwards, we hope. As for grokking statistics, the Auschwitz Memorial tweets photos every day of people who died there. Also a good way to bring that horror down to a level we can at least try to comprehend.

  5. Your description of how COvid-19 feels to the fully vaccinated is somewhat encouraging, although I still wear a mask and sanitize my hands after shopping. I can see why that level of malaise could be fatal for someone with an underlying condition. of which two such live in this home. I am reminded to be meticulous. Please be kind to yourselves. Don’t be afraid to rest. Turn on the joyful music and plan a joyful celebration when you see those welcome signposts of recovery. Meanwhile, looking at yellow tulips helps. I have kept a bunch in view of my sister all week and they bless each of us.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – It seems to me that everyone reacts differently. Given the possibility of re-infection, I expect I’ll be wearing a mask for a while, too. At our worst, we were never deathly ill but still pretty miserable. Don’t want or need to do that again!

  6. Mary Gibson says:

    Really excellent reflection.

    Curiously, sometimes by choice and sometimes by the choice of others, a lot of my beginnings and endings have been of the cataclysmic type. At least they get your attention. Aging (and adapting thereto) seems to be more ‘incremental’ thus far….probably for the best.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Mary – Thanks. Yes, let’s avoid cataclysmic milestones related to aging as long as we can!

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