Quarantine cognizance

Story by Sarah Clower

Illustration by Cliff Thomas

For the first time since probably the last world war, our entire planet’s population was affected and brought to its knees by one thing: COVID-19. This virus completely changed the way we go about our daily lives. It changed the way we school our children, seek healthcare, buy groceries, and greatly limits our access to favorite forms of entertainment, pastimes, and physical activities.

It also greatly impacts our ability to have physical contact with our elderly relatives. Unfortunately, so many of the elderly do not have access or know how to use many modern forms of technology that are commonplace in keeping in touch with loved ones remotely. Especially for the elderly that are residing in nursing and retirement homes, visitors were completely forbidden. This is extremely unfortunate for so many entering the final days of their lives and whose loved ones were unable to say their goodbyes in person, hug and kiss a cheek for the last time. It’s confusing for many elderly patients in nursing homes that were suffering from dementia. They don’t understand why no one was coming to visit or why they can’t leave their rooms for meals or activities.

Being a hairstylist — and not being able to open my business for seven weeks — there were numerous times that I felt especially down, angry, and agonizingly worried about finances, the state of our economy, trying to homeschool my 10 year old and, of course, the health of loved ones. However, I knew I was luckier than most and tried to remain positive. I would often reach out to my older clients to check on them, visit with them on the phone, grocery shop for them, and we even played card games a time or two using Zoom. Oe client, in particular, said something that really made me stop and think.

She asked: “What has your quarantine cognizance been? What has this taught you and made you appreciate more? And what do you think you would have done differently if you would have known back in January this was going to happen?”

Her questions really got me thinking. So over the next several weeks, I decided to ask those around me the same questions, especially those who were feeling especially anxious or down.

Hug my grandma more and go eat breakfast with her every weekend. She gives the best hugs and makes the best breakfasts. I really should have been spending more time with her.
– Aiden, 22

Never take seeing your parents in the nursing home for granted or see it as a chore.
– Kim, 48

Spend more time with my grandparents and buy stock in Charmin.
– Melissa, 34

My big realization was how impatient we can be with the elderly. My dad is 87 and so active. I finally managed to teach him and several of his friends to use Zoom and how to get groceries online. It was very frustrating at times, and there were moments that I about said forget it. But I realized they are just as teachable as anyone else, just more stubborn. But I’m so glad I did. He played games and did trivia nights and played music with his friends, all over Zoom. It would have been hard to keep him at home otherwise.
– Teri, 57

Say yes more! When friends or family ask you out for dinner or to hang out, just say yes. I felt very lonely during quarantine and thought about all the times I chose not to go with them.
– Megan, 20

Don’t start spring cleaning too early,
and stock up on toilet paper and macaroni and cheese.
– Eunice, 91

Buy hand sanitizer and to get a dog.
– Rick, 79

My granddaughter taught me how to get Netflix and how to use it and it has changed my life. Have you ever watched the Andy Griffith show? I basically relived my childhood. I’m really thankful she did that.
– John, 80

I have really enjoyed the time home with my children. It has allowed me the time to get to know them and their hearts better. I think we take that part of parenting for granted.
– Christie, 34

I would have taken some Chinese or Mediterranean cooking lessons. I got very sick of my own cooking very quickly. I only know how to cook regular things and I’m tired of eating that.
– Hazel, 76

Learn to be a hairdresser.
– Laura, 50

I finally got to know my neighbors. They are from Puerto Rico, and I didn’t think they spoke English. They definitely do, and they are so nice. They kept me company. They made me some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten, and they grocery shopped for me. If it weren’t for coronavirus I don’t think I would ever have known them. And what a shame that would have been.
– Margie, 80

I would have bought up a stockpile of hair clippers and resold them. I could have made a fortune!
– Fred, 53

I wish I would have worked on building a stronger network of friends when I moved here. My family lives in Pennsylvania, and they are completely shut down there. I can’t go visit. I am now making that a priority.
– Rebecca, 32

Having a partner that you love spending time with made quarantine a dream. And it made me feel really sad for the people who don’t have that great of a marriage or partnership and how miserable it probably was for them.
– Paul, 45

I have realized how important it is to support local businesses. They truly give you a better experience and care about you. I will do my best to shop local whenever I possibly can.
– Brenda, 47

Teach my grandparents how to use Zoom. I was able to teach my parents how to use Zoom and Tik Tok, but they still worked the whole time. My grandparents would have really benefited from it and it would have made their lives more entertaining. But it was so hard to teach them over the phone.
– Michelle, 35

For me, my cognizance moment was simply slowing down. I work so much, and I try to take full advantage of my time off and get as much stuff done as I can and go as many places as I can. And now I’ve realized that, sometimes, slowing down and enjoying time at home with my family is so much more important. Playing board games with my son with no time restraints has been nice. Laying on his bed and talking for an hour before he goes to bed instead of trying to rush him to sleep so that he will be rested for his long day at school has been priceless. And not having the pressure of his homework and other extracurriculars has been so relaxing for him.

This time has also taught me how important community and having a strong friend network truly is. I am grateful for these things and now I can say I fully appreciate their worth. There is nothing in life that can take the place of people that genuinely care about you, your family, and your business.