Pandemic thoughts: Moving forward in weird times

Cathy Hirko

Remember the first week of March this year? 

Yeah, me neither.

Well, that’s not 100 percent true. On that Friday, March 6 — pre-Covid times — I headed to upstate New York to pick up my college freshman at school. He was starting spring break.

We had originally planned for him to take the bus home, but I was pretty leery about what I heard about this beer-named virus. I thought the better move is to not have him ride a public bus for five hours and risk the possibility of contracting it.

Little did I know that after we exited Ithaca for the trek home, it would be months before my kiddo would be able to return. It’s mid-May now, and his dorm room is still the way we left it — open closets, unplugged fridge, unmade bed. We are hopeful we can retrieve the dorm contents in June. 

We’ve been hopeful about a lot of things recently. 

Hopeful that our loved-ones won’t get sick.

Hopeful we can find work.

Hopeful we won’t lose the work we love to do. 

Hopeful that we can soon pick up where we left off in March.

It’s an anxious time, an angry time, a sleepless time, and for many, a worrisome time.

You can see it in makeup-free faces on our countless Zoom calls, our sweatshirt clad outfits and our pony-tailed hair. For the men, it’s like a forever weekend: beards and baseball caps. 

We pad around in sock-clad feet from the bedroom to the home office, to the kitchen and then hit repeat. We watch clever videos on social media and attend and host webinars on every business subject imaginable. 

We drink coffee to wake up, and sometimes wine to get us back to sleep. 

We experience extreme highs and fitful lows. Some days we reach for and discover we can achieve what we first thought was unattainable, while other days — excuse my language — just plain suck. 

Because we are in weird times, I’m also thankful for the tremendous opportunity for change. I heard somewhere that if you haven’t learned something new during this lockdown then you aren’t really trying. If you haven’t embraced change in all its scariness, you will be behind the pack, and likely stay there. Our growth right now won’t be felt for months or years to come.

And then I think back to my kiddo. He finished his freshman year on Friday from our makeshift basement office. Home is not where he expected to end his last freshman class. 

Admittedly, part of me has been selfish wanting to have him around. I know I’m on borrowed time. This home-bound scenario won’t last.

I smile when I think about how he humors me about my slow-walking pace during our afternoon treks around the neighborhood. He thanks me if I get the chance to make him Sunday brunch, or maybe when we splurge on a DQ Blizzard. We get some small periods of time to talk freely about our fears and our dreams. We laugh in fits because it’s still fun to be silly. 

Yes, this is a weird time right now — something I will always remember for its unprecedented pain, and yet strangely cherish for the opportunities it has afforded me. 


Cathy Hirko
Cathy Hirko is Associate Publisher/Editorial Director for the Central Penn Business Journal and Lehigh Valley Business. Email her at chirko@bridgetowermedia.com.

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