These are strange times. A new virus is infecting people by the thousands. Killing people too. Hospitals are short on supplies and citizens are asked to stay at home and wear a mask if they have to go somewhere. Kids can’t visit their grandparents and Easter festivities are cancelled. A year ago, we would have thought this was something that could only happen to us in a movie. And we would wait until it came out on Netflix or Hulu to watch it.

Not much has happened here in my lifetime that changed my life drastically. There have been things in the country, like school shootings and 9-11, that shook my sense of security for a little while. But nothing that forced me to live any differently. Yes, this is strange.

For me, parts of it are becoming easier and easier. I don’t miss the thrift stores anymore. I don’t miss going into any store and in fact am becoming very spoiled with grocery pick-up, as well as delivery.  I’m starting to enjoy staying at home.

I’m still scared that Michael is going to bring the virus home from work. At the same time, I am thankful he hasn’t lost his job like so many others.  And, of course, I miss my family. I only see them for minutes at a time in my front yard now. Sometimes they don’t even get out of the car. I don’t like this part, but I know it’s necessary that we not take any chances.

I had a great day yesterday. Michael ordered the boy a kite and you have never seen such joy as was in Emory’s little face as he sprinted across the yard with that dinosaur kite flying high behind him.  It was such a happy few moments before the wind died down, but still in the back of my mind I wondered if all that wind wasn’t blowing the virus our way.

And while I was having a happy moment, other people were having the worst day of their lives. That, I think, is the most terrible part of all of this. It’s not like the world, God, mother nature, fate or whatever you believe in,  said “Okay, here is this virus and this is what you are going to be dealing with right now.” No, it still heaps regular tragedy upon us, which is compounded by the virus, and people are expected, now to deal with it in isolation and without the comfort of friends and neighbors. 

Two and three weeks ago I let myself feel all of the sadness and pain for things I knew were going to happen. I glued myself to the news. I needed to know all of the details. I needed to know how many people were infected. And I needed to know how many people had died. I needed to have empathy for the nurses and doctors and the people who bring my groceries to the car. I needed to obsessively think about it every second of the day.

But now I have to live my life for myself and my kids for a little while— and keep my worries a little further back in my mind, though not much. I have to soak up the new chuckles of my almost 4-month-old and I have to rock and sing my almost four-year-old to sleep for a nap every day. I am forcing myself to feel my own happiness right now, because in times like these you just never know what tomorrow will bring. 

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at

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