During last Monday evening’s daily COVID 19 briefing, Vice President Mike Pence said that “this will be a week of heartache and hope.” By the grace of God, we all hope this proclamation is true on more than one level.
Isn’t it profoundly surreal that COVID 19 is peaking as the beauty of spring is unfolding? Spring brings an end to my “seasonal affective disorder,” which hit harder this year since COVID 19 ended Spring Training in Clearwater. But to paraphrase the Troggs’ 1967 hit, it now feels like “Spring is all around me, and so the feeling grows. It’s written on the wind, it’s everywhere I go!”
As this year’s seasonal pilgrimage of thousands of people to see cherry blossoms at The Tidal Basin was restricted to being a virtual experience, I watched a young father taking close-up photographs of cherry blossoms in our office parking lot, while his wife and their two young children playfully gathered the blossom petals that lay on the ground, only to throw them in the air and then gather them again. I was reminded of the Russell Conwell book, “Acres of Diamonds,” which teaches that we need not travel far, but can find true wealth in our own backyard.
This year, as research scientists are working frantically and families are praying fervently for a vaccine for COVID 19, an email message from a friend suggested how we can each do our small part to make the COVID 19 quarantine no harder than it needs to be: “For the first time in history you have the chance to save the human race by laying on the couch in front of the TV . . . don’t screw it up!”
As a life-sustaining business, our team of elder care guides has been doing more than vegging on the couch. It has been a time to focus on what we can safely offer to the public with the assistance of internet technology and social media. Those tools, and a passion to do something helpful, led attorney Patrick Cawley to implement our free Healthcare Power of Attorney and Advance Directive. Take advantage of it.
Staff members still answer our phones during somewhat limited hours; and our care coordinator, Karen Kaslow, remains available for a free telephone consultation about long-term care planning and crisis issues. Other staff members interact as needed with both long-time and new or prospective clients.
While COVID 19 is an immediate and dangerous public health threat, the social and economic challenges of long-term care remain. What has changed is that COVID 19 has restricted hospitalization and made the process of entering a long-term care facility more challenging. Although we have an exemption to remain in business during this crisis, we have not met with clients in our office, although our entire staff is very much available and up to the challenge of serving clients creatively.
We counsel some clients who now suffer the heartache of not being able to gather with extended family in a hospital or nursing home room to share in the final days of a loved one. Others cannot mourn a loved one’s passing as expected with a traditional viewing and funeral service, followed by a procession to a graveside service and a church or fire-hall luncheon.
While some of these deaths in isolation will be caused by COVID 19, others will be a natural end to a long-term care crisis. We understand that it can be hard to know what to do when everything seems to be closed. Just call us.
The origin of our Judeo-Christian faith and COVID 19 both occurred in the Northern Hemisphere, where both COVID 19 and spring started peaking during Holy Week. Jews celebrate Passover and their cultural ancestors’ freedom from Egyptian bondage and subsequent plagues. Christians celebrate that the ultimate sacrifice of our Creator was made by allowing the crucifixion of His son, Jesus Christ.
It is somewhat comforting that, as we shelter in place in our fight against COVID 19, Christians and Jews share a spiritual camaraderie as neighbors because Easter somewhat coincides this year with Passover, which began on April 8th and will end on Thursday April 16th. That makes sense since Christians believe that Jesus celebrated a Passover meal, the Last Supper, with the disciples on the Maundy Thursday before Good Friday, which we who are Christians observe today with somber but hopeful hearts.
For most Christians, Easter is always the first Sunday following the first full moon on or after March 21; however, while most Christians will celebrate Easter this Sunday on April 12th, Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter on April 19th. Easter doesn’t always coincide with the week of Passover. Apparently the confusing dates of these floating holidays are generally caused by differences between the Gregorian and Julian calendars, and lunar and solar years.
The Surgeon General compared COVID 19 to Pearl Harbor and the attack on the World Trade Center. It is fitting that both Easter and Passover do not have fixed dates. Likewise, this year’s Holy Week will be remembered not with the certainty of a specific date such as December 7th of September 11th, but as a time that COVID 19 ended many lives in a way that was unexpected, swift and lonely; the year that Seder celebrations were limited by social distancing; and when church parking lots were empty on Easter Sunday.
Now is a time when it becomes clear whether our personal outlook is one of being a half-empty, or of a half-full glass which is refillable. Some media analysts’ “2020 vision” comes from impaired hearts that look backwards to see what political leaders could have done sixty days ago. Gratefully, there are others who report about how the leaders of many countries have collaborated to fight the pandemic or how truckers, warehouse workers, grocery workers, and health care providers risk their personal safety in the performance of their necessary jobs on the front lines of service while most of us are ordered to isolate for safety.
Join us in looking at this historic time as an opportunity to serve others safely, hopefully and creatively.
Dave Nesbit, Attorney