Breaking Quarantine

by Betsy Emdin, 06/29/2020, Traverse City, MI

Adult Category


Quarantine ended for me on June 8, when I drove from Traverse City to Grand Rapids to help out with my granddaughters aged 20 months and 3 ¾. My daughter’s mother-in-law is terminally ill, and her husband needed to care for his mom, who also lives in northern Michigan. He headed north and I head south. Our lives were disrupted not by Corona but cancer.
The strictures of COVID-19 had determined the aesthete rhythm of my life for three months. I live alone and went out only for groceries and to walk the dog. Daily, I watched reports of COVID casualties and did my part by staying home. My existence was like being afloat on a flat lake. Every day unchanged. The refrain of a Jackson Brown song, “Get up and do it again, Amen,” echoed in my mind every morning. But the tempest came into my life and created waves. A riptide of maladies and malevolence that is both physical and societal. I do my part by leaving home to help my family.
I’m breaking the rules. My granddaughters hug my legs as soon as I walk in their house, and, unmasked, I hug them back. The first human touch I’ve experienced in months. I pull them on my lap for stories, I brush their hair, tuck them in bed, kiss their cheeks, and spread peanut butter on their bread at breakfast. I break rules that I stringently obeyed.
A few nights after my arrival, amidst the metaphorical storms, a real thunderstorm surges through at the children’s bedtime. Warnings are issued as the thunder crashes. It quiets as I tuck the older girl in bed. She’s aware that the world has been shredded. She knows about Corona. She knows who George Floyd is. She’s troubled that people “hurt” her favorite places, the library and children’s museum in Grand Rapids. She wondered if a nearby street under repair was closed because off the virus.
As I prepare to turn off the light, she asks if it’s still raining. “I don’t think so,” I answer, and shut the door.
But it is raining although the sun has broken through the clouds to the west. I open the back door. I call to my granddaughter, enter her room, scoop her sturdy body into my arms and carry her outside. “Look!” I point to the sky. “A rainbow!” she squeals. “Yes, look again, a double rainbow.” Arms wrapped around one-another, our bodies snug, we gaze up at the rainbows in awe.