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The Global Pandemic
April 15, 2020

Linda Cohen

While I feel an overwhelming sadness for those around the globe who have died or are suffering from the ravishing virus, I also feel a sense of peace and connection I have never experienced before. I am a senior citizen living on The Upper West Side of Manhattan in a rent-controlled condominium where I have dwelt for forty-four years. I am very fortunate that I am not strapped for money like so many everywhere. I have a comfortable roof over my head and plenty to eat. And I am not ill, which is the greatest blessing.

Nothing like this monstrous illness has appeared in my lifetime nor in the past one hundred years. Cities around the world, and my own city, New York, most of all, are deeply and irrevocably attacked and changed forever by the ravaging Corona Virus. Worldwide, most of us are social distancing- staying at least six feet apart- and wearing protective face masks and gloves. Most of our economies are all but shutdown and there is hardly enough space to properly bury the dead. There are make-shift hospital tents lining the eastern part of Central Park and the sounds of worrying ambulances speeding the streets of the five boroughs day and night. I hear the words ventilator and ICU five to ten times a day. And our moronic corrupt president serves only to further raise concerns with his lies and ineptitude. An idiot who cannot even read a television monitor! And I learn today that lockdown will continue for at least another month, so my granddaughter won’t be able to finish fourth grade with her friends.

And yet, there is something in this horrific time that brings me great peace and sense of connectedness throughout each day. For this time, there are no foreign enemies. Crime is way down in my city since Covid 19 has surfaced. There are no traffic jams. Governments and leaders, for the most part, are doing their best to distribute and share much needed information and medical equipment. There is so much thanks and gratitude for all “essential workers”. And for me, life has become very simple and routine. I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, since there is no place to go. Shopping for groceries can be life-challenging, so now days I order my food and have it delivered from Westerly Natural Market. Traveling by bus and subway can be dangerous, so I don’t. The mail comes slowly and intermittently so there is less to contend with on that front. Dry cleaners are closed so I wash more these days in the machines and dryers in my building’s basement. Hair and nail salons are all closed so I am saving about two-hundred dollars each week on those amenities. Yes, my nails short and unpolished and my hair has a distinct outline where the gray is growing in. No doctor’s appointments and no teeth cleaning this month nor next. All this comes with a daily sadness that I can’t see my daughter, my son-in-law, and granddaughter. Not to mention my friends.

But on the positive side… As we New Yorkers travel the streets and parks of the city, we acknowledge each other in silent awareness that together we are battling this deadly illness. I wake up at nine-thirty every day (sometimes when I wake up, I don’t even know what day it is) and rush to the tv to listen to Mayor DeBlasio’s morning briefing which usually lasts more than an hour. Shortly thereafter, Governor Cuomo’s briefing comes on tv, where Cuomo has emerged as a hero of this time by offering accurate accounts of what is transpiring here and around the world. Comforting words. I read The New York Times on-line. By now it’s nearly two pm and shortly I head out for my hour and a half stroll (with mask and gloves of course) around Central Park. Always the same route, fast-walk over to Bethesda Fountain, where I climb up and down the thirty-eight steps leading to the fountain, at least four times. Spring birds brightly sing where spring flowers, daffodils, dandelions, apple and cherry blossoms, forsythia, smiling lilies, and purple and white clover are coming up to salute the warmer weather. I walk past many, also with gloves and masks, who mutter a brief “hi” and nod their heads. I hear the hopeful songs from guitars, violins and harmonicas. I sit in the welcome sunlight, when it appears, on stone benches near the fountain. I check my phone for the Dow each day, hoping it will surpass 24,000. I take pictures in the park to share with my loved ones. I am so fortunate not to know any who have died or are critically ill. So I continue on with my day. I donate what money I can to the Mayor’s Fund and City Harvest.

Seeing all our people in silent agreement and bearing witness to what’s happening, fills me with a sense of unity and connection. We are one, together, united against a terrible enemy. My daughter and her family set up facetime so we could share Passover. I am reading more. Writing more. I play with my Tarot cards. I do not order take out any longer, but create my own well-balanced meals. I check New York 1 News often, and at seven pm on the dot I cheer and clap loudly for all those in harm’s way who continue to serve us by doing their jobs… the doctors and nurses, the mail people, the grocery store and drugstore workers, ambulance drivers and transportation workers, the pilots and flight attendants, and many others I do not even know about. The cheers are unifying and gratifying. We are all connected. I feel it. My daughter Joanna calls or Face-times me daily. I am always connected to love.

At eight each night I rent a movie. A new one or one I have not watched in many years, like Annie Hall and Two for the Road. I dance in front of the mirror. I exercise at home doing leg-lifts, push-ups, squats, and a few simple Hatha Yoga postures. Afterwards I practice my William CC Chen Tai Chi for at least thirty minutes. And at bedtime, midnight or later, I imbibe my treasured flower essences (Nature’s Vitamins for the emotions) and I offer my prayers for peace and healing and love. I repeat this process every day knowing that’s all I can do for now. I look forward to hugging Bee, my ten-year young granddaughter, when we are in the clear.

OM. Cherry Linda