Alexandra R. Lajoux
April 26, 2020
My COVID-19 Story
Recently someone asked how I’ve been doing during the current pandemic. It was Julia Roberts of the News Leader, who is writing a story about how people in the community are coping. Inspired by Julia’s question, I found myself writing a 1,500 word essay. What should I do with it? Send it to the Observer, I thought. Before sending it, I ran it by a trusted mentor, who edited it down by half. Here is the result…
Before Coronavirus-19, I had a busy life. In addition to my part-time contract work as a writer- researcher for a Washington, DC, trade association, I had a full civic and family life. My husband, son, grandson, and I live under one roof and help each other out.
Coronavirus began changing our lives in March. Almost none of our activities planned for that month survived. My life has changed radically and I don’t like it. I am an extroverted person who likes to move around a lot. Sitting in front of a computer screen is not my thing. The closings happened one at a time. That softened the blow, but also set me up for disappointment. For example, in thinking about things to do with my grandson, when baseball cancelled, I thought, well, we can always go to the beach. When the beaches closed, thought, we can always go to the pool. And then the pool closed. So home was/ is clearly the place for me to be.
The first thing I did was to decide that I would continue payments to local organizations, even where service were halted – I would not ask for cancellations or refunds – so that when this nightmare is over, they will still be here. I have buckled down more than ever into my (paying) professional work, which involves tracking national legal and regulatory developments—including responses to COVID-19. Keeping my nose to that grindstone gives me a sense of economic security (that they will keep paying me) and makes me feel that I am helping my client.
Also I have done some work to support my campaign for City Commission. For a week, at the suggestion of Commissioner Mike Lednovich, I helped to organize an ad hoc advisory committee on City finances. I collected views from a variety of community leaders and reported results back to the group and to Commissioner Lednovich.
Every day my heart tells me that I need to get off my policy and politics kick and focus on homelife. My grandson still has school (private pre-K) in the morning and his dad (who is furloughed from his job) is with him afternoons, but the little one can always use more attention. My husband does our cooking and he is outdoing himself these days; the pandemic has sparked his survival instinct and he is determined that we will eat well. Our meals together are still the best part of the day.
Meanwhile, I have a literal ton of paperwork and housework to do. I honestly wish I were telling you that I have organized my papers and cleaned my house but I cannot tell a lie. This is something I hope to do soon – before I return to my formerly busy life.
The hardest thing for me has been to not be able to go to Mass and take Communion at St. Michael’s. A wise priest (Father James Barkett of St. Mary of Sorrows in Fairfax, VA) once told me, “Just do your Catholic duty and let God take care of the rest.” My sense of duty has softened. Our Bishop Felipe J. Estevez made a beautiful video for us explaining that as long as we intend to return to the sacraments when we are able, then affirming them in our hearts is enough.
Emotionally, I know that there is grief way down in my soul – for the whole world and most especially for all the places and people I care about which are so gravely affected: the Vatican and all of Italy; New York City; young children deprived of playmates; adults who can’t visit their parents; the hurt all around when businesses large and small have to lay off employees; worries about national and local finances and the November 2020 elections—not only mine but for the nation. All this keeps me up at night. So I just say the Lord’s prayer over and over. It’s my go-to.