(This piece originally appeared on John Grogan’s blog on March 23, 2020. Reposted by permission.)
What a difference a few days can make. Not long ago, I was watching coronavirus taking hold in Seattle, but still, like most Americans, considered it far away and of no immediate concern to me. I went about my daily business. On Wednesday, March 11, I was annoyed when we arrived at an Indian restaurant for lunch and were told they had abruptly stopped the help-yourself lunch buffet “until further notice.” “You mean I have to order off the dinner menu?” I grumbled. The next morning I visited Home Depot, not for emergency supplies, just to pick up some lumber and glue. Captain Oblivious on the loose.
Three days later, my family and I finally woke up to the looming gravity of this national crisis and went into full house-arrest lockdown. As of today, March 23, we are on Day 11 of sheltering in place except for a few brief runs for groceries and prescriptions. Two of my three adult children are home with Jenny and me, to our relief, and the third is safely working from home in Michigan. We are staying busy with yard work, home-improvement projects, brush clearing and the like. Jenny has been baking bread, and she built a stone fire circle down by the stream that runs behind our house. I’m building a footbridge over said stream, and I’ve begun work on a second ukulele, this one out of walnut, maple and cherry from trees that fell in my woods. We consider ourselves lucky to live on a country property with 18 acres to spread out on. I can only imagine the challenges of riding out this historic national emergency in a dense urban setting.
It’s okay to admit we are frightened. I’m scared; there I said it. Not panicked, but a little nervous, a little anxious. To varying degrees, I’m guessing you are, too. (Unless you are one of those tone-deaf spring-breakers partying their way into mass contagion. Duuuudes, please grow up.) This is all new to us, and already the greatest disruption to American (and world) life since World War II. The future is uncertain. No one really knows what a week from now will look like, let alone a year. All we can do is stay home, sit tight, take care of ourselves and those we love, be responsible, respect social distancing, resist the urge to horde. And be kind to each other. Kind and understanding. Especially that. If there is any singular time in our lives to give others a break, it is now. Kindness doesn’t cost much, and, like the virus among us, it tends to be contagious, too. We all could use a little more of that kind of communicable spread right now.
Be safe, my brothers and sisters, my neighbors and fellow Americans, my co-inhabitants of this beautiful, resilient planet Earth. We are diverse, but we are related. And we are all in this together. We will see it through, not in spite of each other but because of each other, and we will go on.
— John Grogan
John Grogan is the author of the international #1 bestseller Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, which has sold 6 million copies in more than 30 languages and was turned into a major motion picture starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. He also is the author of the national bestseller The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir and of numerous children’s books. A native of Detroit, he spent 20 years as a journalist and newspaper columnist in Michigan, Florida and, most recently, at The Philadelphia Inquirer.