I am going to say something I doubt has been uttered by very many, if anyone at all: the pandemic was a blessing in disguise. For me and those in my life at least. Not everyone has been “blessed” (for lack of a better word) but for the overall arcs over the past year it was beneficial that it went into total shut-down.
Let’s start with the first that, in hindsight, was super dangerous and had drastic effects: my husband’s obsession with the gym. He had been on paid leave from his teaching job. His symptoms of ALS had just started to show at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. He thought it was stress, because the job is insanely overwhelming at times, but that turned out to not be the case. At the start of his disability, he started to see a slough of doctors to pin-point what was happening to him. They had no answers. So, my husband treated this time like a little vacation. He was searching for purpose and the drive to do something worthwhile. And even though he was seeing a doctor for the random physical occurrences in his body, he decided to get into exercising and building muscle.
During the summer (prior to his leave) my husband had just had the gastric sleeve surgery and had lost a ton of weight. He wanted to shape up. So, he dove head first into YouTube videos about the subject and body sculpting. He got a gym membership and got so obsessed he would spend hours working out. This was for about a month prior to lockdown. Even in mandatory quarantine he didn’t want to lose his momentum (and surprising love) of exercising that he bought at-home equipment. However during the quarantine he maybe did it once or twice. He felt weird doing it when I was working from home.
Eventually he stopped altogether and it wouldn’t even be until August that we would learn that he had ALS; a disease that destroys your muscles and makes it impossible to heal the ones that are damaged. I shudder at the thought if he had kept going. Would he be worse off than he already is?
That was the biggest miracle of all.
The next was that, because I got to work from home, I got to spend more time with him. Granted I was a rage monster most of it, as I pounded away on the wireless keyboard in our living room. It was nice to be around him. It was also during this time that I watched him more and saw the toll the disease was taking on his body, but not really having the answers to what I was witnessing. I too thought it was stress. I wanted it to be that. Eventually, because Covid had made working from home so accessible, I was able to do jobs on our road trip from California to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to get a second opinion. Sure, it ultimately confirmed what we had already been told, but I got to take a memorable trip with him.
A bizarre side effect was that the man who would eventually become my husbands boyfriend, and a huge factor in our lives, was forced out of going on trip, backpacking across Europe. He had quit his job just weeks before he was going to take his sabbatical and prior to the explosion of this deadly disease. Instead of getting a once-in-a-lifetime trip, he was trapped at home. In his boredom he found other ways to occupy his time. One of which was (months into lockdown) he got on scruff to possibly make new friends, which is where he met my husband. He came over one night and has, since then, been a staple in our lives, holding our little story together. I don’t know where he came from, but he has done so much for the both of us that I don’t think I can ever repay him.
Speaking of boyfriends, it also brought mine closer to my husband. Because we couldn’t go anywhere, we were forced to cohabitate, which was something we really hadn’t done prior to lockdown. For the most part, the lives my husband and I led, apart from our marriage, were separate. Covid absolutely killed that. We started making dinners, watching tv, and spending weekends together. It’s been nice.
A really random side-effect, that turned into a huge factor, was my work-load exploded. My income has grown exponentially since because the role this pandemic has played on the real estate market. I have made more money and therefore can now afford a bigger house that will accommodate a wheel-chair, when the time comes for my husband to reside in one permanently. Up until this past year, the idea of upgrading was fleeting. Yet, here we are.
Don’t get me wrong. Covid has been horrific. It has devastated so many lives. It has made the process of dying that much shittier for my husband. When faced with one’s own definitive end, he wants to travel and see the world while still able. This disease has robbed my husband of that luxury. But then again… Maybe it’s good. We would have spent so much money that getting a bigger, nicer house would have been impossible.
This isn’t shared to brag. By no means. If the reader sees this as such, you’re missing my point. And ultimately, I have failed as a writer. It is posted as a way to try and look at this shit in a rosier light. At the end of the day this entire event has been horrific. It has needlessly killed so many people because of the negligent actions of others. It has revealed the cruelty and selfishness of humankind and for that I loathe it. It has robbed everyone a year of their life, one they will never be able to get back. I really wish it hadn’t happened, but if it hadn’t, where would my road have gone?