My Covid Epiphany by Ross Perkal
My Covid Epiphany
by Ross Perkal
[All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Spring 2020 Under Quarantine Order]
“People, People who need people, Are the luckiest people, in the world… With one person, one very special person A feeling deep in your soul Says you were half, now you’re whole No more hunger and thirst But first, be a person who needs people”*
*Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl–1978
Day 1 of Quarantine—
My doorbell rang. Neighbor Donny, with a box in his hands: “Just keep this for me, will explain later…,” as he ran off! I set it down, agitated and with more important matters to attend to.
[Narcissistic Tirade at two (2), five (5) year old chihuahuas:]
“Well this really sucks !” 2/29/20, NM Governor issues “stay at home” Order. Had been home already, working offsite for law firm, but now: I can’t go anywhere, or do anything, golf, tennis, volleyball, or other healthy exercise!”
“YOU can’t do this to me! It’s NOT fair! Six months AWAY from retirement, after 45 years in the business-law trenches; an abominable time to force me to change my plans! I want my “old normal” back. I want it right NOW!!!”
“This might be OK, if I were not an anal-compulsive planner. These were to have been the BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE! You can’t take that away from me now! Please, whoever is listening up above, PLEASE STOP THIS!”
[TAKE DEEP BREATH] “Keeping all this anger inside of me takes SO MUCH energy! I need a nap at noon and one at 5 pm. Still sleepy at bedtime. SLEEPING MY LIFE AWAY, while a flu-like virus has the entire WORLD paralyzed/perplexed. Ultimate Force, please CEASE this insanity!!!”
I always thought the END (my end), would be a surprise, nuclear attack from North Korea. Bored, I opened Donny’s package. Heavy, metal handgun inside the box. A clip full of bullets inside the pistol-grip. NO CLUE why he gave it to me, an avowed pacifist!
Day 30 of Quarantine–
This is NOT how my PLAN was supposed to work, just six months away from “R Day,” the day when all those inept, young Judges were to have to stopped tormenting me, and all those ungrateful, clients have to stop criticizing all the wrong decisions by those bleeping Judges and blaming ME!
The gyms (volleyball), tennis courts, golf courses all closed for 30 days now. My body a wreck, not to mention my mind. Falling apart at the seams. Can only SLEEP. No interest in food, even though am great cook. Drinking fluids, to keep my joints lubricated. Rest of me like tinman in Wizard Oz.
Can’t listen to TV, depressing me with “latest” on virus—global its raging spread from China to world. Am in “serious risk” category, due to age, labeled as perhaps having “underlying conditions.” Is FEAR one?
[To Dogs:] “Dreams/fantasies all gone now. My hopes to retire, relax, meet lady of my dreams, become “lovers,” and recall the feeling deep in my soul; stop feeling like half, and soon become whole. But first, I have to be a person who needs people, dammit! Not likely in my deteriorated state. Seldom bathe/ wear same clothes for days. Am invisible to all but dogs.”
“Despite 30+ years therapy with trusted counselor, am bereft of sanity. “Glory” days ahead, seem like “trick” by universe. Endless, dedicated work; explosion of 20-year marriage by infidel; subsequent 26 year rebuilding of psyche, but now left with catastrophic conditions/chronic depression/rude injustice. Have only 3 “M” words to describe my descent into Hades: ME, innocent victim of malevolent, malicious, malignant, course toward deterioration, and/or early (pre-retirement) death.
Morbid fascination…the gun like a toy, but heavy. If extended outward, my arms tremble, cannot hold it still. Not sure how long I will be “custodian.” Dreams of shooting it, hoping shock might awaken me from restorative slumber, only to find, with joy, my warm, fuzzy, cozy, normal. Put it away in freezer, so no one might see it. My dreams are on ice, now, also.
As virus appeared, people started behaving badly, irrational, selfish, narcissistic behaviors. My clients and my clients’ opponents also. STUPID-20 will probably be the next virulent, virus trying to ruin my retirement years.
Day 60 of Quarantine—
Cannot even get out of bed now. Depression, when mixed with 45 years of jumping out of bed and throwing on 3-piece suit (with matching vest), really wears on a lawyer. The WORST is I never know what day it is! Time either stands still, or races compulsively out of control. The irony is that only the garbage pick-up days are etched in my psyche.
Always read the obituaries first when run out to get the daily rag. Did you know that many persons are now living well into their 80s and even some into their 90s. I don’t have a goal, except to keep up my health/exercise regiman, as long as I am around.
Donny called said “getting divorce; afraid that ex would shoot him, if she had gun.” Warned me not to “play” with it…
All politicians dissembling to gain advantage from Coronavirus. People everywhere dead and dying.
IRA went down 33% that first day, two months ago. Warned to not expect recovery, in my “lifetime.” May have to work several more years now, in order to finish, and be ok, IF there ever is a new “ok!”
Been “half,” trying to become whole, for 18 months now. My last partner wandered off; good timing for both of us, though our two years together were perfect, it had seemed.
Searching for new partner, former GF–nurse, at assisted living facility, came knocking, at what would normally have been synchronous time. Virus races rabidly through senior residence homes here though.
Like virulent, lightning bolt, accompanied by vicious flood of mortality, killing all in its wake. To my great dismay, fraught with extreme risk to first responders, like her.
Had not seen her in five years before start of quarantine. Made frantic, desperate, pent-up love on our first date back. Then she was gone; with her absence, am left without any trace of sensation, humanity or touch.
Her sudden, mystical, astonishing, reappearance was a breath of fresh air, before morbidity returned, clouds darkened, ominously, and sense of final foreboding, and ultimate, untimely demise overwhelmed me.
There is skin hunger and thirst for deep kisses again…with loneliness/sadness/feelings of wanting more, before I depart.
Lots of neighborhood violent crime now: armed, home-invasions, car-jackings, etc. Gun “around,” brought false hope/security; at least vision of ability to respond, but don’t know how to use it.
Bad news/Good News Report: Stay at home Order meant have not seen best friends or exercise buddies for three months now.
Text/email, only. Phone seems too intimate for the terror/trepidation/fright that is predominant in my and their beings.
Two adult children here are safe, but distant, due to fatalism (mine) and separation anxiety (theirs).
Most uplifting moments are neighborhood walks with dogs, who though diminutive, light up the countenance of all who view them. My ever-present, arm-waving HELLO/beaming smile, brings some comfort, to me and to those we encounter. All smile broadly and mouth “cute!” and wave back. My only wish–that they were referring to ME.
Day 90 of Quarantine–
Others slowly return to offices. Gloomy morbidity demands I stay home. Anger/angst/antipathetic, dismay regarding what my new “normal” will be like, causes despair/grievous sorrow/lingering sadness, tears and despair.
Am violent, life-long opponent of narcissism (except for this rant), having suffered younger brother (could have invented that word) and ex-wife (who gave new meaning to it).
Political climate past few years bred fantasies about becoming ex-patriot. China, intentionally, or negligently poisoned globe. No place to run away/hide now.
Curiosity ravenous. Took gun, in box, to local gun store, which has “practice” facilities in rear. Inquired, naively, how much it would cost for me to shoot the gun “a few” times. Clerk laughed deprecatingly, and retorted LOUDLY, so everyone in store would hear: “We don’t charge you for each round you shoot, sir, we charge you for the TIME that you use the range!”
I slunk back home, feeling even more, despondent/hopeless. My new “toy” humiliated me. Could not bear the dejection, anymore. Hugged both dogs/cat and closed them in my bathroom.
Overwrought…at my spiritual emptiness. Called Donny, no answer. Felt empty. Irreparable. Emotionally bankrupt.
Ripped open package. Placed gun-barrel on chest, facing me.
In flash of rage, I pulled trigger.
Deafening sound of metal on metal, but felt nothing.
Forgot to turn “off” the safety!
Began hyperventilating in worst panic attack ever, collapsing in heap on floor.
Lay there trembling uncontrollably, catatonic, blank façade.
Having “dodged a bullet,” I swore repentantly, to immediately restructure my life, so as to TRY to “first be a person who needs people….”
Finally, I texted my former GF, begging for another date…, and then, I let the dogs out.