It came creeping into our lives from clear across the globe. We all saw the images of mask and Hasmat clad Asians fighting this intruder that came to steal lives. But, we continued living life, denying any possibility it could touch us personally, something so far removed from our comfort zone thousands of miles away.
Then it was reported there were additional cases popping up around the globe. Italy was struck with a vengeance reporting numerous cases, China began to report deaths and more European countries disclosed rising numbers. When the virus had reached US shores with active cases reported in Washington DC, New York and California the level of fear escalated. Suddenly we were forced to consider the dreadful possibilities.
Now the federal government took heed. Slow at first to respond to the world wide outbreak, it was no longer possible to ignore. The President brought together the worlds top disease control experts and heads of corporations to consider next steps. And they began to take action.
While all of this was swirling around the globe, our own little space was preparing for our annual PLAYERS party. For twenty-seven years we held a week long party for friends, neighbors and customers. Living on the perimeter of the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Golf Course first tee box and just steps from the guarded entrance to the PLAYERS, we loved the event and the world-wide notoriety it brought to our sleepy beachside community. Club trucks pulled into the normally vacant lot next to our house and PGA Tour golfers paraded past to see if they could change the loft of their driver or try a new putter, in preparation for Thursday’s first round tournament play. It was all very exciting.
Houseguests arrived daily, friends who had been making this annual trek for many years appeared around our outdoor bar. It was a wonderful camaraderie that had developed surrounding this event. While uncertainty swirled around us we felt removed from fear and doubt and happy to have perfect weather as we walked the cart paths of the pristine TPC Sawgrass Stadium course unaware of what was to come just days from then.
Governor DeSantis appeared on television to report the first cases in Florida and necessary mitigation steps needed to be taken to slow spread of the now deadly virus. Those with compromised immune systems and underlying health issues and the elderly were most susceptible to death from the virus. He explained the new term, “social distancing” to remain self quarantined and avoid contact with others thru hand shakes and hugs and wash our hands often.
Well, I thought to myself, I will be careful. However, accessing our group and the number of compromised or elderly invited to our home throughout the week and to the celebration of life party Friday evening, made me begin to worry and consider steps that might need to be taken to ensure the safety of our family and friends.
About forty friends and family paraded through our home Wednesday to watch the practice round. It was perfect weather to walk the grounds and perhaps sit on a hole as my father in law loves to do, watching as the pros play through. Our cares seemed to drift away with each drive of the golf ball.
Early that day the television screens in our outdoor bar turned from golf to a press conference. Jay Monahan, PGA Commissioner of Golf announced with regret there would be no spectators allowed on the course. This was necessary to keep players, volunteers and fans safe amid the Covid -19 spread. This announcement would change the complexion of the entire tournament. I was glad I had made a decision not to walk over to the tournament. I needed to be careful.
It was eerie sitting around our backyard bar with only a handful of friends. Fear and uncertainty was slowly building. Thursday however, the number of visitors began to increase, We all wanted to support the tour. We had made our plans, tickets had been bought, flights had been taken, hotel reservations confirmed. Most were here…now what do we do? We decided to make the best of it. We continued to watch golf and band together amidst this unfolding nightmare.
Then Thursday late afternoon Jay Monahan made another announcement that shook us all to our core. The 2020 PLAYERS was cancelled at the end of play of the first round. This would be the first of many cancelled tour events. And, they were cancelled not postponed. This was serious.
On Thursday I shared my concerns with Tommy about holding the celebration of life party. It was not responsible to continue our plans. We agreed to cancel.
Over the weekend our family pressed in. Beach gatherings were perfect as the children played together in the fresh air and we huddled under the sun tent sipping our beverages. Even though there was not a cloud in the sky a dark cloud was hovering over us. Uncertainty could be felt breeding fear.
Mass on Sunday was half attended. Very few children could be seen and we all prayed for discernment. No holy water, no touching with sign of peace, no wine for the Holy Eucharist, rules that needed to be followed to protect one another.
Friends and houseguests made plans to return home as further mitigation eluded to the cancelling of flights and possible quarantine. Monday I dropped my father in law off at the ghost town of an airport. There were very few cars on the road. Schools were out on spring break so no school busses. Many employers ruled employees must work remotely from home. Grocery stores had turned into scenes of chaos as shoppers hoarded toilette paper, tissues, wipes, sanitizer, water and food for what might be weeks of quarantine.
What was happening? It seemed like something from a movie…an apocalypse. A global pandemic had been declared.
Each day government authorities made more closures. School would not return after spring break, businesses cancelled huge trade shows and meetings having an impact on local economies cancelling flights, hotel and restaurant reservations. Restaurants, bars were forced to close. Nursing homes were off limits to visitors. You can find broker online if you need any kinds of investment advice. .this meant I could no longer visit my 95 year old Mother, nor could my brother. Social distancing needed to be practiced now more than ever as the arrival of tests revealed increased number of cases now reaching to every state in the US. The stock market roller coaster dips and gains grabbed us all where it hurts. Sell or continue to watch our life savings diminish?
Watching all of this unfold before my very eyes I began to see some good come from all of the negative. Parents were finding great projects online so as to slow any possible decline in their children’s educational advances. Families were preparing and eating dinners together. Our busy lives were coming to a complete halt. We were forced to slow down, press in and trust God, that He would control all of it, that there would be good coming from the chaos.
My friends began to share God wink stories. Personally, I thought of how the Holy Spirit had nudged me to make a decision to take a break from chemo last November, allowing my extremely compromised immune system to build a bit before Covid-19 hit. If this had happened in November, surely I could be even more susceptible.
One of my friends had lost her 99 year old Mother who lived in assisted living facility where she would visit her twice daily a month before Covid-19. She would never have been able to stay away from her sweet Mother nor would she understand why her loving daughter was not visiting. Surely God had taken her before these restrictions were put in force.
A beautiful baby girl was born to my dear friend’s daughter, her first grandchild. St. Patty’s Day would forever hold new meaning for this family. But, God sent them something to focus on, to ease their fears.
Seeking a deeper meaning to the situation revealed the positive results swirling around me. The world had come to an immediate halt. I believe most of us secretly longed for this respite. Families were forced to be together inside their homes for two weeks or more. Working from home remotely, virtual schooling, nursing homes and hospitals refusing to allow visitors, all sports cancelled, beach closings, churches closed and offering virtual masses, dentists offices closed, social distancing, no hand shakes, hugs or kisses. Everyone urged to wash hands frequently, keep six feet apart, no more than ten people gathering, special early hours for the elderly to grab what they needed from the grocery. Restaurants offered take out service as they closed their doors to dining in. Unlikely corporations turned to manufacture of ventilators, masks, gowns, drug companies rushing to find drugs that could be effective in fighting Covid-19.
Suddenly everyone was joining together to stop the spread of the virus as our homes became our best refuge in the storm.
But…everyone isn’t fortunate to have safety and refuge at home. Some are faced with limited food, verbal and physical abuses we can hardly imagine. While we are tending to our own, we need to pray for and consider how to help those who need us.especially the children. Maybe a phone call, a delivery of groceries or information on any options available.
The virus had effected everyone regardless of if they were infected.
Pull together by thinking of ways to fight this global pandemic. Let’s all do our part. Stay safe and pray.