It’s been 95 days since we took my little brother off life-support at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica. The first 60 days were a blur, a self-imposed quarantine, where I laid in bed watching over 200 hours of Law & Order and crying into my pillow. Every time I tried to function, whether it was grocery shopping or returning to work, I would fuck up. Left my wallet at a gas station one day, broke down in tears at Ralph’s while I was looking for canned tomatoes the next. Everyone kept telling me to try and get some kind of routine together, to get out of bed, to do something, instead of wallow. I had just mustered enough strength to try and re-enter my life when news of the virus started circulating.
On Thursday, March 12th I did a deep-dive on Google, reading everything I could about this virus. I got a text suggesting that LA might go into “lockdown” within 48 hours. I didn’t even fully understand what that meant, but headed to the grocery store and stocked up. Since then, I haven’t left my house other than to buy more groceries and visit my parents.
This week, life as I knew it ground to a halt. I’m a real estate agent, I own my own business. At first, agents were continuing to post new listings and go on showings, but we just received notification through the California Association of Realtors that we must stop. Which makes complete sense, and I am adhering to that. Even though that means delaying indefinitely a large listing of mine that was supposed to go on the market next week, and bring in a sizeable paycheck for me.
It’s been deflating – the modest little routine I had created for myself was ripped away just as I had willed it into existence…and in all honesty, I feel this a low hum in the back of my head that tells me if I rest too much, stay idle, then the sadness will come back and I don’t know how I will keep myself from falling into that big black hole of despair again. I thought I had moved on, that I could put Eric’s death on the back burner, but I’m realizing now that was a little naive.
Which brings me to my “new normal”. Operation Keep Elderly Parents Alive Even Though They Keep Insisting On Leaving Their House. I have to. On the last day of Eric’s life, right before we wheeled him into the operating room so they could harvest his organs for donation, I crawled into his gurney and wrapped my arms around his body and promised him I would take care of mom and dad, no matter what.
Today I woke up at 8:30 am and the sky was bright blue with big cotton ball clouds and I got up to make some coffee. My parent’s chunky pitbull Lucy has developed some type of malignant growth in her jawline and needed to be taken to the vet for a round of shots before she goes into surgery this week. If she doesn’t have surgery, this growth will impede her ability to eat, deform her jaw, lead to death. So we’re considering this an emergency and going forward with the surgery later this week. I drove over to their house to pick Lucy up and then drove her to Mar Vista to get the shots. I live in Encino, and normally with a little traffic, the drive takes me about 35 minutes… Noone was on the 405, and I got there in 15. I took an old t-shirt and tore it up and wrapped it around my nose and mouth, as my good friend who is also an ER doctor, advised me to do.
Lucy is 90 lbs of pure muscle, has been refusing to go on her daily walks, and is bursting at the seams with unbridled energy. She pulled me to the vet’s parking lot, where I passed a group of homeless men sitting on a bus bench. They were chuckling at a couple of young well-heeled Venice yuppies helping each other put on gas masks which I am going to assume they had from their last trip to Burning Man. I wish I had one myself.
I was greeted in the parking lot by the vet technician, who was clad in scrubs wearing a face mask and plastic goggles. He gave her a shot in her thigh muscle and off we went. They had already accepted payment over the phone, so we didn’t have to get too close or use a credit card machine. I drove her back to my folks’ house, then made them a lemon basil chicken soup and stuck it in their fridge. I showed my mom how to do a few things on her computer, which she made a video of for later reference, and I drove back home. I made them promise not to leave the house, and made the drive back home.
A little while ago my phone pinged with yet another notification from this new Facebook group that I joined a few days ago. I’m a recovered drug addict with a little over 13 years sober, and over the course of the past 7 days, the LA recovery community has created a few Facebook groups in which to congregate and share information on how to attend online meetings using Zoom, a video conferencing app. There were a few AA meetings that were stubborn at first… they didn’t want to close down their meeting, and defiantly announced their position publicly on Facebook. But I think they’ve either been shamed to death or the facilities they use to host their meetings forced the closure, and nearly all of them have migrated online.
A lot of addicts and alcoholics rely on attending regular meetings to hold them together from one day to the next. Many of them have never experienced real freedom from their mental illness, and I’m praying for them right now because I cannot imagine these Zoom meetings saving anyone’s life. I have attended a few and so far it just feels like people who have perfected the art of watching themselves live-stream on Instagram.
It’s now a little past 6 pm, and it has started raining again, and I’m going to go read. Staying at home feels comfortable and safe, and I live with my husband, so I’m not alone. I’m grateful for that because we truly enjoy being together and we isolate frequently, regardless of a national pandemic. Tonight I’ll go to bed praying for the addicts who I know are out there on the street, meeting with their connect, hopefully Lysol-ing the shit out of their baggies of dope, and the homeless men and women who have been stranded long ago, and whoever else is out there feeling lost and out of sorts and in a panic over money, and food, and our future.