Loss and Love in the Time of Covid

By .

Evenings of board games and laughter, intellectual discussions over dinner, days of drifting from reading to knitting to cooking elaborate meals and baking beautiful bread. Walks in the woods with my dog, the odd bike ride with my husband. Gardening in the sun. I had unrealistic expectations, perhaps, but this is what I dared imagine life in self-isolation might be, the four of us all together for the first time in years.

There have been elaborate meals—nettle risotto, roast leg of lamb, slow-roasted vegetables, homemade pasta. The bread has indeed been beautiful, thanks to the plethora of no-knead recipes out there now, and I’ve also made hot cross buns and nut loaves and cookies and yogurt. But discussions over dinner have often disintegrated into nit-picking and arguments, conflict over the Netflix account, and whose turn it is to walk the dog. Ah, the children are both home. Except they are no longer children.

I get it, life changed practically overnight for them, but also for us. The global pandemic caused us all to come to a pause and rethink our future in two-week blocks at a time.

Our daughter, at twenty-one, was in her last month of classes at university, about to graduate. The world was full of possibility. She had a few leads on jobs, a budding romance, and was looking forward to crossing the stage in cap and gown to collect her well-earned degree.

Our son, at twenty-five, was working and living with his girlfriend at a resort in the Rockies. It had been a cold winter and he was looking forward to spring skiing. They mapped out future adventures and dreamed dreams, their world full of possibility too.

And then, the new coronavirus we’d vaguely heard about became more prominent. It was proving to be more virulent than expected, more deadly than anticipated. The world reacted. We became familiar with terms like physical distancing, self-isolation, quarantine. Stores closed and we lined up for groceries, stocked up on hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes and toilet paper. The shortage of flour and yeast would come later.

There was the email from the president of the university—in-person classes were cancelled, graduation postponed indefinitely. Our daughter would finish her term, and write her exams, online. She and her friends lost their part-time jobs and, unable to pay rent, many returned home to different parts of Canada and the world. They didn’t have a chance to say good-bye in person. Some of them will likely never see each other again.

The budding romance came to an abrupt halt, the boy returning home to Ontario for the foreseeable future, our daughter staying in Vancouver with us. Now they talk and do crosswords and even workouts, all on Facetime. Love in the time of Covid.

The resort in the Rockies closed and staff were laid off. Our son’s girlfriend headed east, on a flight back to Ontario, to spend time with her parents. He drove west, to Vancouver, piled his stuff in our garage, and reclaimed his old bedroom. Their plans for another year or two of the wanderer lifestyle up in the air. Now they too are together but apart, connecting on Facetime. How to plan when he is here and she is there and everything, absolutely everything, is uncertain? Love in the time of Covid.

For my husband and me, life hasn’t changed that much. We are newly retired and had already learned to slow down and spend days together. We walk the dog, go on the odd bike ride, garden when the sun shines. Sometimes it feels like we will run out of things to talk about. Yesterday, we danced in the kitchen. Love in the time of Covid.

I love that our family is together again. And yet, I know it is not the adult children’s first choice. We are lucky and we know it—we are healthy, we eat well, and we have a comfortable home near the woods that makes self-isolation bearable, even pleasant. But we are getting cranky. It’s raining today and we are all inside. Whose turn is it to walk the dog?

Esmeralda Cabral

About Esmeralda Cabral

Esmeralda Cabral is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and the MFA program in Creative Nonfiction at the University of King’s College in Halifax. Her work has been published in anthologies, the Globe and Mail, and online. Two of her stories have aired on CBC Radio. She lives in Vancouver with her family and her dog.

21 thoughts on “Loss and Love in the Time of Covid

  1. AvatarFranci

    Brilliant! That’s ‘our’ writer, Esmeralda. Just right.

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      Thank you, Franci. I’m glad my story resonated with you.

      Reply
  2. AvatarEmma Greenberg

    <3 loved this Es,
    –Emma Greenberg

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      Hi Emma! Thanks for reading and so glad you liked it.

      Reply
  3. AvatarCathy Mackenzie

    Beyond moved by your words. Can’t stop crying for lost time. Thank you ❤️

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      These are strange days, indeed, aren’t they? Thank you for reading my story. I’m honoured that you found it moving.

      Reply
  4. Avatarmargarida ribeiro

    Dear Esmeralda,
    You are so right, and you are indeed so lucky. Some day you’ll laugh about this walking the dog issue.

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      Hello Margarida! Yes, we do laugh about walking the dog, but only sometimes. I’ll pm you!

      Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Kimberly.

      Reply
  5. AvatarBob Gordon

    The problem with short stories is that they are short. I need more – how did everyone get over being cranky? Do young loves become old loves? What comes after Civid and isolation? More importantly, who walked the dog? Guess I will have to wait for the sequel. Hope you do make me wait too long. Congrats. We loved it.

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      Hi Bob. Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad you liked the story. Sorry about all the unanswered questions, it’s sort of what life is like right now, isn’t it? As for who walked the dog, it depends on who you ask. I’m sure I did, lol.

      Reply
  6. AvatarBob Gordon

    Sorry, that should have said – Hope you don’t make me wait too long.

    Reply
  7. Holly HaggartyHolly Haggarty

    GGM and myself are nodding. Been there. Why is my nose running?

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      Hello Holly, thank you for your comment. I’m glad you can relate!

      Reply
  8. AvatarPat Preston

    This so brilliantly written. And so moving and true. A mix of reality with humour and understanding. I am honoured to have read it. Thanks for sharing it with me.

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      Oh what a lovely comment, Pat. You’ve made my day, thank you.

      Reply
  9. AvatarHenryk Melcer

    Perfectly encapsulated the moment, Es! Appreciated the perspective on our lives. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. EsmeraldaEsmeralda

      These are challenging times, aren’t they? Thanks for reading, Henryk.

      Reply

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