In January, at the kick off of the year, when we heard rumors of COVID taking over China and then the first cases hit the USA, followed by the first cases to hit California. I remember the panic we felt as the community gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year. I remember my mother walking into our hotel room early one morning way before the sun rose, to ask me if we were going to attend the Lunar New Year festival in light of the news that someone within the county had been diagnosed. I remember thinking of my mother, my aunts, my uncles, and my community members who had traveled from as far as Australia and France to attend this festival, who were aging and definitely in the age group of those who would be gravely affected, but yet, they still marched on, fear not yet settling in their thoughts. I remember giving them the traditional air kisses upon our departure home, never did I think that I would miss seeing them in a couple months during our next reunion.
March came and swooped the nation by storm, and with it, mass panic set in. I remember the week before our state “Shelter in Place” orders went to affect, going to Target, searching for non-existent hand sanitizer, and grabbing a 2-pack of paper towels and scoffing at the toilet paper memes running through social media. Little did I know that in less than 5 days, our world would be very different, and panic would ensue. Upon the State orders, my siblings and I banned together to keep our parents safe. I remember calling my partner and asking him what he wanted to do about sheltering apart, or sheltering together, would one of us leave our parents behind and go? Would our siblings be able to pick up the pieces if we left for the other? We didn’t think it would last more then a month, maybe 6 weeks, so we decided to stay put, we could put our Bi-Coastal jet-setting relationship on hold for 6 weeks. Our parents would want for nothing, need for nothing and have no reason to leave the house or expose themselves to the virus, this was the boomer killer after all, and we were privileged enough to protect our parents, so we were going to do so.
Our parents had other plans.
In the course of the last 5 months since the pandemic took off and staying home became the new normal, my father had a stoke, my mother in law had massive open heart surgery and then an extended unexplained heart condition that has forced her to get a 5 star suite at the hospital until they can find a cure or a cause. My friend’s mom broke her pelvis trimming a tree, my other friend’s Dad died of a massive heart attack while getting the mail and our neighbor down the street broke his leg trying to learn to skateboard at 70.
The pandemic may be running rampant through the world, but for our parents who haven’t seen a grocery store, their friends, or a streetlight in months, this was the perfect time to stare death down and play a game of chicken.
Sometimes I wonder if they are just bored and looking for things to do, other times I wonder if they just want to meet someone new. At the end of the day, we will sacrifice to care for them, and keep them safe, even if they are playing the worst game of chicken.