Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: What Happened to Time?

8 Sep

The other day I sat out in a backyard drinking wine out of plastic cups with a few friends. We were appropriately distanced, masked-up when we couldn’t be, grasping for some semblance of normalcy. We tried to talk about everything other than our current reality but, inevitably, reality crept back in. It is a constant companion these days. It has ripped so much from us. Friends, loved ones, idols, jobs, vacations, mental health, time. I know that in the grand scheme of things floating in a time warp for 5 months isn’t the biggest deal, but right now it feels like everything. I mean, it’s the 8th of September and it could just as easily be May…or August…or March. I am afraid that if I blink we will be back again at March 15th, the anniversary of when our world shut down and nothing about our battle with the virus will be substantively different, except that we have lost every single day since we acknowledged it’s existence. It feels like we are all on a hamster wheel and the only way to orient ourselves in time is to make connections with the past.

It was brought to my attention by a friend in that yard that I am coming up on the year anniversary of the death of my last grandparent. I am grateful that she went before the virus took hold. I am certain that her death was scary enough without her lungs turning to crystal in the process. And selfishly, I am thankful that we were spared what so many people have been suffering through – the loneliness of a grief spent isolated from loved ones, of funerals broadcast via livestream, of the obvious absence of the hugs and closeness that sustain us through painful times. I wonder how many people went earlier than they should have – not just due to coronavirus but other things as well – without the lifeblood that is love, company and human contact. We used to hear uplifting stories of people hanging on to life because of connection, so where do those stories go in our present? How differently do they end? I worry about what this will mean for the thousands of people having to navigate their way through grief, through recovery from illness, through the trauma of working on the frontlines during this crisis. Do virtual support groups work as well as in-person? How about online therapy sessions? Or therapeutic happy hours with friends over zoom?

I guess time will tell. If that’s what we are calling it these days.

As I reflected on the privilege my family didn’t know we had in being able to gather in close quarters at the cemetery, in having hundreds of people through the house, in debating about the whereabouts of a missing chocolate babka, I realized something.

*This is going to sound really weird, so be prepared.*

What I realized is that I long to return to those two days of shiva where people roamed through my parents house, concerned about sadness and remembering, but not concerned about contamination. I want us all to take food from communal plates and stand close to one another talking, regardless of whether we knew who the other person was or just pretended to. I want to put down my wine glass and pick up…maybe my wine glass? – or perhaps it was my mom’s or my sister’s – and not worry about one of us falling ill from anything other than a mild hangover. I want that feeling of unquestioned, non-threatening community that I fear we won’t have again in the same way. I want those two days of time-dragging, exhausting, grief-stricken company back.

Or maybe it’s just that I want time itself back. I want to know what time feels like, what it means. I don’t know about you but I’ve been grieving the loss of a lot of things these past few months (are we still measuring “time” this way or…?) but I haven’t grieved the loss of the concept and feeling of time. So, I guess I’ll add that to the list. It’s a long one but…I guess I’ve got time. Or something.


If you are enjoying my writing, and since a lot of the cafes are currently closed, consider buying me a coffee on ko-fi! It only costs $3 (or a multiple of 3 if you’re feeling frisky!) and would make my house-bound, under-socialized heart sing. To those of you who caffeinated me, I send you so much gratitude. And I send gratitude to all of you who took the time to read this piece and helped me hold some of these thoughts. 

2 Responses to “Rebekah’s Pandemic Diary: What Happened to Time?”

  1. Katie Cesario September 8, 2020 at 9:30 pm #

    Well fucking said, Frank!!

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