COVID-19 Changed Me
by Scoti Domeij
Little things make me realize how Coronavirus has changed me. As I shopped for Easter dinner, the store speaker system reminded us to socially distance ourselves from each other. I tamped down irritation at a mask-less father and his three mask-less children and wondered, Don’t you care about the health of your children? If those were my children they’d wear masks. Thankfully, I didn’t glare. Then I recalled how stubborn my sons, Kristoffer and Kyle, were at that age and how my now-adult son must go to work every day. In the beginning before lockdowns, when I recognized the seriousness of COVID-19, my second-born son discounted my concern—only media-fueled panic—which only upped my mom-induced anxiety for his health and safety.
The last time I shopped over two weeks ago, if someone stood in an aisle that displayed an item I wanted, I walked an extra aisle over to avoid that person, thankful that I’d added steps to my daily walking count. Today, I even held my breath as I walked past a young, mask-less male standing in the middle of an aisle. Ridiculous, I know.
I’m in the “vulnerable to Coronavirus” group, along with my 91-year-old mother and a disabled individual—both who live with me. If it were just me, I’d be a little more cavalier about my comings and goings. However, the weight of the responsibility to care for my mom and my disabled friend makes me extra cautious—ridiculously cautious, as in OCD cautious. My disabled friend’s regulated-by-the-state team members gasped when I said, “I’m prepared to shelter in place until August, and perhaps until November.”
I started harboring in place before Gov. Polis announced the statewide Stay-At-Home Order on March 25. Before the state mandated day programs to close, I pulled my disabled individual out of day program, a petri-dish of disease, thanks to parents and caregivers who send their wards to day program sick. And I felt guilty that I hadn’t listened to my gut a week sooner to have my disabled friend stay home. I donned a mask, actually a hijab, before Colorado Gov. Polis urged all residents to wear cloth masks each time they leave home in another measure to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Without me, my mom and friend would suffer. And if I expose myself unnecessarily, I potentially expose them to harm.
When my nose runs, or I sneeze, or my throat feels sore, I take notice as worry niggles at my innards. One evening I felt fever-ish. Yep, the thermometer verified a fever. Because I rarely run a fever or even get sick, I wondered: How sick will I be when I wake up? Instead of taking Motrin for the fever, I decided to let my body fight whatever it was fighting.
Before entering the grocery store, I thanked the young man wiping down all the grocery carts, even though I arrived prepared wearing plastic gloves and my mask. I thanked him for working to make sure we can buy food. As I passed the wipes supplied by the grocery store, I grabbed more wipes and OCD-wiped down the cart handle again.
I walked past the egg cooler, now replenished. Only weeks ago, my 91-year-old mother asked me to pick up brown eggs and prune juice. However, no eggs of any color were to be bought. I double-checked to see if I could grab small cans of prune juice for mom. Nope. Still out of stock—but lots of energy drinks and pop. In the produce section, I grabbed fresh basil. A few leaves touched the side of the cart and a slight freak-out occurred. I repositioned the basil until no leaves touched the cart and wondered: From this forever point on, will I OCD over how I place fresh vegetables in my cart?
How I relate to people, even inanimate objects, has changed. Now potential threats, I’m on guard. While on my mission to get-in-and-out-as-fast-as-possible, I worried that I might walk too close to another shopper. I smile at other shoppers, as in the past, but realize they can’t see my smile behind the mask. I looked at one woman and said, “I’m smiling.” Her eyes laughed. I heard her giggle, as she sported an unseen smile behind her mask. I self-checked-out, then headed to my car. I removed all the food in potentially contaminated, grocery store bags to the uncontaminated bags I brought from home. I returned the grocery cart to their parking station, then wiped my hands with wipes before getting in my car and touching my steering wheel.
As I cooked dinner, an elderly couple living in a large, retirement facility called to wish me “Happy Easter.” I love them, and asked, “Are they protecting you from Coronavirus?” They’re confined to their apartments and receive food twice a day. They talked about how everyone—everywhere—is scared and confused and now is the time to share our faith with those who feel lonely and terrified.
I reflected on the past few months: I recalled how each time worry morphed into fear, I turned to my list of over 200 Hebrew names of God that describe His attributes, promises, and protections. As change and uncertainty swirled around me, I scanned the list to see what promise or part of an unchanging God I needed that day. Then I looked up and read every verse in the Tanakh that included that specific Hebrew name of God.
- Jehovah Shama, The LORD Who Listens and Hears Me. Check.
- Jehovah Elohe Yeshuathi, The LORD God of My Salvation. Check.
- Jehovah ‘Eyaluwth, The LORD My Strength, My Help. Check.
- Jehovah Ezer, The LORD My Help. Check.
- Jehovah Ez Lami, The LORD My Strength. Check.
- Jehovah Gador Milchaniah, The LORD Mighty in Battle. Check.
- Jehovah Ganan, The LORD is My Defense. Check.
- Jehovah Machsi, The LORD My Refuge. Check.
- Jehovah Magen Ezer, The LORD My Shield of My Help. Check. Jehovah Miquab Eth Tsarah, The LORD My Refuge in Times of Troubles. Check.
- Jehovah Mish En, The LORD Who is My Support Who I Can Lean On and Trust In. Check.
- Jehovah Natsal, The LORD Who Delivers and Rescues from Harm. Check
- Jehovah Shalom, The LORD My Peace. Check.
- Jehovah Shamar, The LORD Who is My Keeper and My Hedge of Protection. Check.
- Elohim Qarowb, The God Who Is Near. Check.
I set the dinner table complete with flowers, tablecloth, cloth napkins, wine, prime rib, steamed broccoli, carrots, and asparagus, and homemade banana pudding, and a place setting for my firstborn already deployed to heaven.
When I called my mom to eat, she asked, “Is someone coming?”
Tired of our ‘Coronavirus Menu’ gleaned from the freezer and larder, I replied, “Nope, I just decided to splurge.”
As we savored our dinner, mom talked about how this pandemic reminded her of WW2 and food rationing. I think about my friend’s mother-in-law, who lived through the 1918 pandemic. Wowsers!
After enjoying a beautiful Easter dinner with my mom and disabled friend, I chose to scan the headlines. For whatever reason, the media found it crucial to report more “facts”—Factbox: Coronavirus spread closes North American meat plants.
Irritated, I posted my first pandemic comment on a ‘news’ site: “Thank you (snark) for adding more panic and instigating more COVID-19 panic shopping to already worried Americans.”
Like everyone else, I wonder: When will this end? Will it ever end? I want my life back. Then I search for hymns on YouTube to counteract the media’s hopeless negativity reported as “fact.” Fact or faith? Which will I choose? Then I realize, I’m living my life, my faith—caring for my mom and my sweet, disabled friend.
Scoti Springfield Domeij is the proud Gold Star mom of 2/75 Army Ranger, Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Domeij, KIA on October 22, 2011 during his 14th deployment in Afghanistan. Kristoffer’s death inducted Scoti into the amazing military family and Ranger community. A civilian, Scoti is woefully ignorant of military protocol and acronyms.
She serves as Director of Springs Writers, is a solo-parenting columnist for Colorado Springs Kids, was editor/writer for nine publishers. She’s published in diverse publications including The New York Times, Southwest Art, School Daze, SAM Journal, and parenting magazines. She contributed stories to Violence of Action: The Untold Stories of the 75th Ranger Regiment in the War on Terror (Blackside Concepts), Love is a Verb Devotional and Heaven Touching Earth (Bethany House), Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press), Extraordinary Answers to Prayer: In Times of Change (Guideposts), and The Mommy Diaries: Finding Yourself in the Daily Adventure (Revell).
A researchaholic, Scoti was Senior Research Assistant/Art Production Coordinator for the 27-part film series shot on location in Israel entitled That the World May Know. She interacted with top scholars, archeologists and museums while researching geography, seasons, feasts, culture, dress, facial ethnicity, machinery, furniture, weapons, wars, architecture, archeological discoveries, Roman culture and government, ancient religious beliefs, flora and fauna to conceptualize historically, archeologically and biblically-accurate art compositions used for over 200 art renderings and maps.
© 2020 The Havok Journal