Michelle Martin

All together now

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

People in Italy are singing and playing music from balconies in an effort to provide hope and human contact to their neighbors who are under quarantine as part of the response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

A friend picked up my daughter’s books and other school materials as she will be home doing “distance learning” until further notice.

All three of my kids — from the fourth grader to the college senior — will be doing school from home, as their respective institutions shut down face-to-face classes in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, and my husband and I will be working from home as well.

While the closures and advice for people to keep to themselves as much as possible will likely lead to social isolation for many people, for us it will be an occasion for togetherness the likes of which I don’t think we’ve ever had.

At least, my husband pointed out, we have a lot of board games.

That togetherness won’t come easy, or without cost. Tony had to travel to Boston to help Caroline pack and move all of her things; as a senior, she won’t be moving back to her apartment. And neither she nor her brother is old enough to rent a car, even just to get the boxes to a shipping facility.

All three them then had to travel back from Boston. Meanwhile, Teresa and I stayed home. But this also means Caroline will likely not get a college graduation ceremony after four years of hard work, and we won’t get a much-anticipated family trip to see it.

As the COVID-19 news snowballed over the days from March 10 to 13, we made plans — work plans, travel plans, family plans — and scrapped them and started over time and time again. We kept in touch with friends around the country, all of whom are going through similar things. We’ll be okay.

But as word of school closures, canceled sporting events and empty store shelves kept rolling in, one thing became clear: we really all are in this together. Everyone from nursing home residents who suddenly cannot have visitors to kindergartners who won’t see their friends or beloved teachers or us, with three students using the wifi to write papers, take tests and generally complete their courses of study. No one is unaffected.

Those of us who rely on prayer even have to find a way to do that without going to Mass, although several parishes are livestreaming liturgies.

We can use prayer time to connect with God, of course, but also to ask God to remember all of us, and help us all to be better neighbors to one another.



  • family life
  • coronavirus