Mark’s Covid Diary… February 22, 2021

A friend of ours was diagnosed with Covid not too long ago. About three or four days before her diagnosis, she and Linette had taken a long walk together. They’d been wearing their masks the whole time, and had stayed a good distance apart from one anther, but we were still concerned. Linette not only went and got tested, and told everyone that she’d been in contact with since about her possible exposure, but I also stayed away from the restaurant, just in case I might have gotten it from her. We were lucky this time. Linette’s test eventually came back negative. And our friend’s case, as it turned out, was relatively mild. Still, though, it made for a strange few days this winter, with me and the kids going on about our lives, as Linette stayed sequestered in a room downstairs, just off the kitchen, living a quieter parallel existence to that of me and the kids.

It was like the kids and I were sharing the house with a ghost. Linette, of course, had been away before. But this was different. She was here, but, at the same time, she wasn’t. The kids and I would be playing games at the kitchen table, and we’d hear her in the distance, making small movements. We’d hear a drawer close, or a muffled cough. Occasionally we’d see a glimpse of her, in her mask, as she floated quickly from the room where she was staying to the bathroom just feet away. There was no talking, really, except through the closed door, as we wanted to keep our distance. It was kind of eerie. We’d leave food on a tray outside a door, and we’d here it slowly being pulled in, across the floor of this almost 200 year old house, in as we walked away.

For what it’s worth, we were really good to her. We treated her well for the days she spent in isolation. We left her clean clothes and food. We could hear her though the walls, saying that she felt loved. But, for the most part, we just left her alone, to the point that we’d start to forget about her in little ways. We’d make decisions about meals without consulting with her. We’d talk about our days over dinner. And, meanwhile, Linette was somewhere else, in a kind of in-between place. Maybe it was that she and I had had just watched the the film A Ghost Story, which is about a man who refuses to leave his young wife after he passes away in a car accident, but it made me think about death, and what it must be like to lose a loved one. It also brought to mind a really early lyric by my one-day-a-year band, the Monkey Power Trio. The song is called You Say You’re Leaving, and here’s the lyric.

“You say you’re leaving / but you aren’t leaving / you say you’re leavin’ / but you’re not / you say you’re goin’ / that you are goin’ / but my mind won’t let you go away / everywhere and every day / everything I see or say / I see traces of you around / a lock of hair / a shirt you used to wear / a piece of tooth / a bottle of jam / an old box of cereal…”

I suspect, when I wrote that, I was thinking about all of the stuff we leave behind when we move on, and the meaning that others assign to even the smallest of objects that are left. For instance, somewhere here in the house, I have a recipe for banana bread that I copied down from a former girlfriend. It’s the last tangible thing that I have that ties me to her, as everything else has slowly disappeared over the past quarter century. I don’t even have a photograph. That one little, torn, hopelessly stained recipe for vegan banana bread is all that I have left. And, as I haven’t seen it in years, I suspect it may be gone now two. Everything fades away with the passage of time.

I should mention that, according to Linette, the days she spent alone the small room off the kitchen were among the nicest she’s ever had. She enjoyed the break from us after being locked up together these past nine months or so without reprieve. She slept, watched movies, and caught up on her work. And, now, I’m seeing it from her perspective. As of last night, it’s me that’s in isolation, as I await the results of my Covid test, having come in contact with a person who would later test positive.

It’s interesting being the ghost. They leave food outside my door, and I listen to them living their lives while sitting here on the couch alone. They know I’m here, of course, and they occasionally come over to ask me how I’m doing, but there are moments when we’re just existing on parallel planes, where I’m in here, missing them, and just listening to them get older. This, I know, is what it must be like to be a ghost… except without the food.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 23, 2021 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    I hope your test is negative. Have you upgraded your masks from cloth to KN95? Those are much more widely available now and significantly better, especially if used with another mask over top, to improve the seal.

  2. Posted February 23, 2021 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    My hope is that most of us will be vaccinated by the summer!

    I am currently in my own COVID isolation due to some risky behavior on my part. I didn’t bother with the test though since isolation doesn’t involve digging out my plowed-in car LOL. Looks like things are melting today which is good since tomorrow it will have been a sufficient amount of time since my possible exposure to venture out into the world (masked of course) :)

  3. Posted February 23, 2021 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I am glad things are well for your family. My fingers are crossed that you will turn out to be negative too!

  4. Posted February 23, 2021 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Yes, I wear a KN95 mask while at work. I’ve tried to double mask, but I’ve found it difficult. (I think I have weak ears.) I will try harder. I’m not feeling great today, but I think it’s just from sleeping here on the couch, and not getting out of the house. At least that’s my hope. With any luck, I’ll get a negative test result back today. Even if that’s the case, though, I plan to go back for another test later in the week. And best of luck with your quarantining, Lynne. Hopefully be both come out of this alright.

    Yours truly,
    The ghost behind the wall in the kitchen

  5. Bob
    Posted February 23, 2021 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Getting my vaccine tomorrow. I hope my mood lifts afterwards. I hope everyone can get it soon.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted February 23, 2021 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Have you and your staff looked into earsavers for your masks? They are essentially a short adjustable straps with buttons or clips that go behind your head that ear loop straps would attach to, saving your ears. Also, it allows the mask to hang around your neck loosely when you don’t need to wear it. They are not hard to make or get.

  7. Posted February 23, 2021 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I will look into different straps. And I will try harder with double masking. I promise.

    And I’m glad to hear that others are getting the vaccine.

  8. BL
    Posted February 24, 2021 at 4:20 pm | Permalink have KN95s with head straps instead of ear loops — they’re about $1/mask. I double up with a cloth mask (I got a bunch of cheap cloth ones from Amazon that I labeled and cycle through, ear looped). I look forward to visiting your restaurant soon. Be well and hope you’re feeling better.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted February 24, 2021 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Birria ramen. You heard it here first.

  10. Bob
    Posted February 24, 2021 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I went to the EMU convocation center this morning for my first dose. I can’t praise the people and experience more highly. They were amazing. In and out in half an hour or less. No hassle. Organized as hell. Pleasant even. Big government at its best. The people there were amazing and I hope they get recognition. I thanked everyone I came in contact with profusely. Got a Bugs Bunny bandaid too.

  11. Kerri
    Posted February 24, 2021 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Wow, what an ordeal. I hope your test comes back negative and am so glad that Linette is ok. My mother in-law is in the hospital with COVID complications right now. It’s terrifying. I haven’t posted about it on FB because my husband’s a pretty private person. I urge everyone to be as careful as they can until they are vaccinated. It’s just not worth it.

  12. wobblie
    Posted February 25, 2021 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Unu el miaj plej ŝatataj ekonomikistoj parolantaj pri Biden.

  13. Posted February 26, 2021 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, Kerri. I hope she recovers. I know it’s little comfort, but people who are diagnosed now have a much better chance of surviving than they did earlier in the pandemic… As for me, I’m sure I’m fine. I was exposed to Covid on both Saturday and Sunday. I was wearing a mask, as was the person with the disease. (He was relatively asymptomatic, but getting tested regularly.) He got his positive test back Sunday night, and I was tested on Monday. That test came back negative. I chose to stay in quarantine, though, as the incubation period is said to be three to five days. I was tested again last night, which would have been about four and a half days after my last exposure. My hope is that this test too comes back negative. I haven’t been feeling great, but I think it’s because I’ve been locked up by myself in a cold room, sleeping on a couch. Anyway, we shall soon see.

  14. Posted February 26, 2021 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I hear of people being exposed frequently but fwiw, so far, I have not heard of anyone who got sick when the person they were exposed to was wearing a mask. Masks seem to work very well as long as the person who is sick is wearing one!

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