March 13, 2020 :: The Day We Went Home and Didn’t Come Back

It’s cliche to say, but March 13, 2020, pretty much started out like any other day. We got our kids ready for school, dropped them off, and went to work. There was a fair amount of water cooler gossip about this new illness going around, at the time still being called “Coronavirus,” but mainly people were making weekend plans and cracking the usual “Friday the 13th” jokes.

Then I got an email from my older daughter’s school, and it was pretty shocking. School would be closed –closed!– until after Easter holidays! It seemed unreal. I was so irritated that the decision was made for such a “long” stretch of time, instead of just a week at a time. I mean, we still had to work!

My older daughter had been scheduled for a “spend the day,” but that was quickly canceled. When the school closures were announced, some coworkers without school-aged children at home began an offensive, making sure management understood how unfair it would be if parents were “allowed” to work from home AND homeschool their children at the same time; but they also didn’t want to be too close to those of us who were parents, at the time convinced that the sickness would spread like wildfire through schools. Desks and offices were hastily packed, with only absolute essentials being grabbed because “they’re probably overreacting. we’ll be back in a week or so…” I took more than I thought I needed and looked a little wistfully at my desk with the fantastic view as I left, aware that it could be the last time I sat there.

Spoiler alert: It was.

The lockdown brought about personnel and organization changes to my job at the time so significant that the entire footprint of the office was reworked. Some colleagues left, some were promoted, and some stayed home. From my personal perspective, I lost friends and family who succumbed to the disease. Though I myself only had it once and over a year ago, I am still having trouble with breathing symptoms from it.

Covid and the resulting lockdown changed the way we shop, live, work, interact with each other, consume media, schedule appointments, and choose medical professionals – do I need to go on? The last three years have been completely different from the decade leading up to them, and for most of us, the changes began three years ago today.

Maybe 2 and a half years ago, I went to put on my mask and longed fondly for the day when I’d find a mask in a jacket pocket or in my purse and not need it, simply put it somewhere to be “unfound” sometime. The day came a week or two ago, brought on not by me digging in a jacket, but as I was searching for a sock in a basket full of socks – I pulled on a piece of black fabric and what should spring forth but – a black mask. Not just any mask, my “favorite” black mask. It was stretchy, it was comfortable, breathable, and it was black so it went with everything. And despite my joy at how far we’ve come – I can’t bring myself to get rid of it … we’ve had so many surges!

I would often chuckle at the absurdity of having a favorite mask … and now here we are.

Three years, and we are stumbling from the darkness and into a different era. Post-Covid. As I said above, we work differently now. If you want to work from home, you will be able to find a work-from-home position. We interact differently now. If you see someone standing away from the crowd, wearing a mask, or turning their head as they speak, you no longer have any reason to assume they are being standoffish.

And we love differently. We said goodbye to people on March 13 that we never saw again. Some of those goodbyes were less than kind or caring, and why? I think we understand the fragility of life more now. Almost everyone has had this illness, we know it’s brutal and painful, even if you don’t die from it. All of this has made us closer to our experiences, and the people we share them with.

Don’t misunderstand me. Sometimes, I think that I would trade a week of my life to re-live the day of the world, pre-Covid. It seems with all the growth and vision, every single thing is exponentially more complicated.

But, looking at it today, 3 years later, we have made the most of it, and that’s something to be proud of.

Jeanne Rougelot
Jeanne is a proud Westbanker and wife, full time working parent, and middle child. She and her insanely handsome husband of 20 years have 2 daughters, aged 15 and 7. Her hobbies include cake decorating, reading, devouring movies, and slowly turning into her mother. When they are not patronizing local restaurants, she and her family enjoy driving around to take in the surroundings of their home, from Lafitte to Folsom, and all points in between. She is a passionate advocate for Ovarian Cancer Awareness.


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