B.B. Boudreau

Novelist | Singer

Numb

It has been six weeks. I look at this pitiful collection of 7 essays with disgust for lack of output. So, in order not to chastise myself too severely, I have to take stock of what I have done in the past weeks that COVID-fucking-19 has changed our lives. I’m hoping it’s a substantial list, because I hate being idle.

  • Published the sequel to my first novel The Frenchman. It’s called Death of the Frenchman, so there is finality, at least to the title. Never mind that I have had this one basically ready to go for almost two years, but with real extra time on my hands, it would be pathetic to have not gotten it up on line.
  • Ordered an author’s copy and read the whole thing. Impatient with the changes I have to make, but I force myself through it and actually enjoy the story.
  • Raked and cleaned all the edges of my yard; cleaned the garden.
  • Watched 6 seasons of Bosch
  • Read two Michael Connelly Bosch Obviously, I’m obsessed by Bosch. I’m beginning to think he is a real person.
  • Stitched 56 masks for the Addison Gilbert Hospital, 16 for Cape Ann Medical Center, one each for us, 3 for my boss, one for a friend in NC and 4 for another.
  • Shortened the sleeves of my raincoat. I’ve had the damn thing for 3 years and have been rolling the sleeves. The whole thing took me ½ hour. Feeling stupid about not having done it earlier.
  • Planted mesclun, arugula, lettuce, spinach and two kinds of peas in our community garden plot.
  • Had at least 7 Zoom meetings. I hate them. Everyone has that 1,000 yard stare.
  • Forced myself to sit at the laptop and work 40 hours per week.
  • Made apple crisp twice.
  • Walked almost every day.
  • Two trips to the grocery store, where I always feel like an alien. I don’t do the grocery shopping in my house. Not only nervous about the COVID, but unaware of the locations of anything in the store.
  • Wrote two blog entries; chided myself mercilessly that there were only two.
  • Bathed and groomed the dog. She stood shaking, enduring the torture.
  • Cut my husband’s hair.
  • Cut my own bangs. Almost lost my mind trying to sweep them out of my eyes.
  • Have showered at least twice a week (!) Quite enjoying my natural body oils. My hair is not attractive, just incredibly healthy.
  • Sleeping an unbelievable 9 hours per night, thinking it’s because I’m depressed.

 

Looking back at this list, I feel a little better. But almost none of the bullets includes writing. Why?

It’s so difficult to write during this nightmare that stretches from day to day like a slow motion dream full of chasing and falling. Each day is exactly like the one before. And I’m experiencing a new emotion. I feel numb.

I get up, pour a cup of coffee, and watch the news. There are more deaths, more testing, lack of testing, and repeats of information I swear I’ve heard before—or have I? The numbers change just enough every day that I’m not sure anymore if there are one million cases or one million deaths. That’s the clincher; they’re just numbers. Let’s face it: these are people; people with families, mothers, fathers, children, uncles, aunts. A report comes onto the screen about a woman who has lost her mother, grandmother and one aunt who all lived together. It is unimaginable and incredibly sad. Losing a mother is very difficult. Suddenly you are an orphan. For months after, you think, “I should ask Mom,” for a split second before reality comes rushing back. The question will forever go unanswered, because she is gone, and now you’ll never know, and you’ll never see her again. You didn’t think to ask the question during her days of decline. You just fretted and hoped she would live a little longer. The poor woman in the news story lost three of her beloved elders in a short space of time. That is numbing.

That is how I feel—numb. At first this Coronavirus was terrifying, the feeling subsiding as the days wore on to a state of underlying anxiety, and finally I am just numb. Announcement of reopening begins in other locations, and the fear starts to rise again. Everyone I talk to says exactly the same thing: I have good days and bad days. It’s like being sick or old. I have the same response: good days and bad days. Thank goodness, today was a good day. I Team shared with my co-workers, judged a science fair (remotely) and walked about three miles with a friend. We are patient. We are waiting. But the emotional toll is upon us, and I simply feel numb.

Comments

  1. Alfred Buls says:

    Bravp Barb

  2. Barbara says:

    Thank you! Doing a lot of writing during this crisis. Hope you both are well.

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