When the world announced a pandemic, my first reaction was fear. Fear of running out of work, running out of food, running out of money. To no longer be able to pay my bills, to take care of my children, to lose my house, to lose my financial investments, to lose my dignity once again… Surely many have been afraid of losing their pension fund, to lose their future, to lose their stock market investments. I know I am not alone here. It reassures me a little. We must be millions!
Anxiety overwhelms me when I listen to the news. Stress takes over me when I think about the recession that will follow. The anxiety breaks me down when I imagine the possible repercussions in all these countries which have no running electricity, no big box stores, no food supply, no hospital system accessible to everyone, no bank or government to give them a temporary salary or an interest-free loan to continue. All these people who live day by day and who already live in misery. For all those isolated, for those who die alone, I cry.
The emotions of the past invade me without even taking the time to ask my opinion. Our 2009 bankruptcy comes back to me. With the recession of 2008. We were not safe, young parents of three children in less than three years. We weren’t very well equipped to deal with this drastic economic change. The debts slowly sank us to the bottom of the barrel. We lost everything, our house included, and our pride in being independent … It took us several years to overcome this difficult challenge. To be able to look at the balance of our bank account without my teeth grinding for fear of missing money.
Then in March 2020, the whole world is in this unreal, precarious situation. A new pandemic, this famous COVID-19 which is going way too fast. Which follows our fast pace of our unrestrained society. It’s scary. For everyone. When you are an entrepreneur and you lose all your contracts. Own a restaurant and you have to close. Manufacture and you have to lay off your employees. Real estate investor and you don’t know if your tenants can pay. Employee and you have to stay at home with an uncertain salary. It’s a big hit for everyone.
Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, we went for a walk in the forest. The five of us with our new 5 month old puppy. She has been with us for 2 months. The best puppy ever imagined. Soft, calm, playful, charming, a small Australian shepherd, the color of the desert with a silky stare. We are on a mountain bike trail running down the track and screaming of joy, imagining we are on our bikes. Suddenly, cyclists arrive and we barely have time to shout “Watch out for the kids”. Everything is going so fast. I see the kids quickly getting off the track and my puppy rushes to one of the cyclists. This one does not see her and run over its small hairy body. She runs to take refuge higher up the hill and we all join her. She is bleeding from the mouth and choking on liquid. She looks at us helplessly. We cannot save her. She is all broken from the inside, and so are we. We know she is leaving us, but far too quickly, barely having time to say our goodbye…
I don’t know what makes me sadder, being so helpless, unable to save my puppy who is dying in our arms too quickly or knowing that my children have just witnessed death or because I just lost my new fluffy friend. I console myself that we were lucky to know her, even for such a short time. I feel so bad for this man who must have had the same nightmares as us, unable to sleep through the night. It’s not your fault, it’s an accident. If I could, I would hug you and we could at least cry together…
My older boy, too sad to witness this sudden death, leaves alone and disappears on the path. I think we’ll meet him at the car. Unable to speak, Betsy, Nelson and I travel the kilometer between us and the car to realize that Walace is not there. Martin joins us quickly, with the inert body of our beloved puppy. Realizing that we are missing a large chunk of our family, we order Betsy and Nelson, in tears, to stay in the car while we go in search of Walace. For the next 30 minutes, we run on the trails shouting his name, becoming more and more worried. Then I go back to the house, 3 km further on, to grab our 2 cellphones and 2 bikes, leave the children to the neighbor with the idea of calling for help because darkness will fall shortly. I don’t have time to open the handle that the front door opens. My big boy, disoriented, sad and overwhelmed, looks at us with his soft, helpless blue eyes, from inside the house…
We return to join Martin in the forest, and the five of us dig a last hole for our little puppy. Walace gives her a ball that was in his pocket and Betsy the food that she brought everywhere for her training. We draw her a big heart with stones and return to the house, now too empty. We will have to relearn how to live without her.
Which reminds me of the current world situation. Money, loss of work, social status, it doesn’t matter. We can lose everything but you get by. It hurts, but you get by. There’s no point in stressing about money, or the fear of running out of it. A semblance of normal eventually returns and life resumes its course, quietly. Should you still be alive! And that’s what matters. Stay healthy, stay alive, take care of yourself, your family and your children. Stay at home to allow those who work up front to protect themselves and their families. You are heroes, you, who work hard to save lives. You, who work hard to keep us safe, at home. I cry with you, those who lost someone too quickly, without having proper time to say an adequate goodbye.
We are all in the same boat. Storms always pass, the sun always come back shining. Because everything else, we shouldn’t care, it will pass. Living, today, now, is what matters the most.