Blurry time in the pandemic

By Lisa Maria Boyles

Time isn’t behaving as usual in this pandemic. Whenever something time- or calendar-related comes up, it catches me off guard, I am startled:

What month is this? What holiday is coming up or just past? What day is it?

My sense of time is so distorted as we live through this COVID-19 pandemic.

A meme on social media captures the blurry time so well: “2020 is a unique Leap Year. It has 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 5 years in April.

Who knows what we’ll say about May.

My pastor, Julia Penner-Zook, posted on Facebook:

I find these days, weeks, and months to be more and more disorienting as time passes! Nothing seems familiar: not my routines; not the unusual sensations I feel; not my thought patterns; not the gnawing loneliness that creeps in masquerading as exhaustion.

I can relate to that.

Days, weeks, months, seasons pass by. Usual traditions and holidays blur by or are left out altogether. Events are postponed. Anticipated vacations — canceled.

The semester is over? It’s Memorial Day weekend? Father’s Day is up next?

I have so much worry that none of that seems real. (And the whole mental health crisis looming from all of this is a topic for another day.)

I’m blessed. I still get to go to my job several days a week, then work from home the rest. I can’t imagine the disruption for those who are truly sheltering in place, working from home since the upheaval of March as emergency orders sent many people home from jobs.

And I still have a job. So many, so many have lost that safety net of employment — a paycheck, a purpose and the benefits that go with it.

What is real is the true impact, the true devastation of this disease.

  • Globally: More than 341,000 deaths.
  • United States.: Almost 100,000 deaths.
  • California: Almost 4,000 deaths.
  • Fresno County: 22 deaths.

The May 24, 2020 front page of the New York Times doesn’t contain its usual mix of stories and photos. Instead, it presents a full-page list of names of Americans lost under a headline “U.S. deaths near 100,000, an incalculable loss.”

Each name includes a victim’s age, town and a brief snippet capturing a key essence of that person. (And that full page of these bare details only captures about 1,000 COVID-19 victims, a mere one percent of our nation’s loss so far.)

In “The Project Behind a Front Page Full of Names,” the paper explains why it used this dramatic treatment to mark this grim milestone:

Simone Landon, assistant editor of the Graphics desk, wanted to represent the number in a way that conveyed both the vastness and the variety of lives lost. … Marc Lacey, National editor, said, “I wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through,”

An online treatment of the story presents a different presentation.

John Pavlovitz, a writer, pastor and activist who spoke in Fresno in 2018, wrote “How do you grieve 100,000 lives?“:

“You grieve this by admitting that it’s happened; by naming the reality and facing it fully and allowing it to break your heart, and not looking away from it on your way to a normal life that you’re so anxious to return to that you’d rather ignore it—but you don’t because you know that 100,000 families will never be able to wish it away or pretend it isn’t real or deny it out of existence.”

The curve is not flat. Yet so many areas are starting to reopen.

But just because things are opening back up doesn’t mean I have to get back out there yet.

I’ll stay in my fuzzy-time pandemic time bubble as long as I feel I need to, keep on my mask and gloves when I do the weekly shopping, carefully wipe things down. Whatever I can do to keep myself, my loved ones and those I care about safe.

And still it won’t be enough.

(Blurry font in the graphic courtesy of – – Erthqake Regular)






One thought on “Blurry time in the pandemic

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  1. Following the links you embedded is a journey into mourning! We must find ways to honor, never forget, yet simultaneously tend to our own and one another’s pain. Thank you for using your pen and voice to honor the lives and remaining families of those whom we have lost.

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