Adrift in a Coronavirus World

March 27, 2020 0 Comments

adrift in a coronavirus world - tree branch floating in water

*blows dust off blog*

It’s been a while. Life has been intense. We were moving home (again) in Montreal. We spent unplanned time in Vancouver. We came back. We settled into our new apartment. We’ve been worrying about our future as immigrants in Quebec. I’ve been wading through homeschooling regulations and paperwork. We’ve been waiting out the long cold winter and making tentative plans for the milder weather – not knowing that even if other things aligned, there was no chance of any plans coming to fruition this spring.

It felt like it would be a waste of precious time to just sit and contemplate anything. Translating thoughts into words worth saying would take even more effort. Even for an audience of just myself. These particular days and weeks (months?) I could also easily let slip past in a blur. But one of many questions lingering in the back of my mind in the last week or so is whether life as we’ve known it has been altered irrevocably. I think it has. If ever there was a time to document our daily life as we transition into something new, surely this is it?

This may be the event that has the biggest impact on the future I expected my children to have. Exactly how different that future will be, remains to be seen. Only one thing is sure right now. The world has become a strange place, with stranger times yet to come.

Only a couple of weeks ago life was proceeding fairly normally. There were the usual fears to deal with that affect only us, and wider concerns like the climate we are leaving behind for our children to inherit. The world was keeping an eye on China, but it was unclear how far this threat was going to spread. A dark cloud on the horizon – but only one of many that might suddenly rain destruction down upon us all, or just as unexpectedly dissipate into something only felt in some regions.

I watched with growing unease as the coronavirus spread in Italy, and further afield. I wondered how soon the effects would be felt in our small part of the world. I anxiously followed developments back in Ireland as rumours began of schools closing and the panic-buying began. Everything was still normal here which should have been reassuring, but it felt wrong. Was it due to cultural differences, or was it just a matter of time before the same whiff of panic would blow through our neighbourhood, leaving the shelves bereft of toilet roll. Was this the calm before the storm that was now surely growing overhead?

News finally came that Irish schools were closing. Simultaneously, Montreal began to shut down too – with no lengthy debates or speculation. In fact there was barely any notice at all. Large offices switched to mandatory work-from-home overnight. We should visit the library tomorrow, I thought. Only to see a few minutes later that the libraries were already closed for business. Schools and daycare followed suit within a day, ignoring the unpopular education minister who believes children can only learn in school.

Just like that, the virus was officially here. Not that it hadn’t been festering unseen for weeks, but it was finally being acknowledged. NOW the panic-buying began. Thankfully after a couple of days the complete insanity (and toilet paper stockpiling) had subsided. Calmness descended on the streets, only it’s become too quiet. Nothing brings Montreal to a halt – not temperatures of plus or minus 40 degrees, not storms slicing through power lines, not 30cm of snow in an afternoon. Yet this buzzing city has fallen almost silent. The coronavirus is something so much bigger than we’ve ever known before.

The impact for us so far is minimal compared to many. My husband is working from home indefinitely. It’s difficult, but it’s at least doable. We’re among the fortunate few, even if we struggle to remember that as we face the long days ahead of us. Now we’ll play the waiting game, watching the daily figures, wondering where they will end. Wondering what kind of world will remain in the wake of this.