Here I am at 92 still learning important lessons. Let me tell you a story. As things have changed, like not being able to drive and the deterioration of my vision due to an inflamed retina and Age-Related Macular Degeneration, I realized that I needed additional assistance to to do some of the things I used to be able to do on my own. I got in touch with an organization that hires out companion care for seniors. They provided me with a delightful assistant. Her name is Lauren.
I arranged for Lauren to come by every Monday from 2 to 4 PM. Typically, Lauren and I would jump into her vehicle do some chores, including the week’s shopping. Lauren, just 26, quickly learned the things I like. Moreover, she is a delight to work with and to be with. One time we picked up a nice piece of salmon. We got back to the house and began preparing dinner. I was pan broiling the salmon and the LP gas ran out! Luckily, my next-door neighbor, Deborah, said that we could use her electric stove. Lauren and I carried the pots over and finished the preparations. We sat down to dinner together and cleaned up afterward. What a delight.
When we were ordered by our governor to stay-at-home because of COVID-19, Lauren went to Trader Joe’s and picked up everything I needed for the week. I was set. However, a few weeks later Lauren did not show up at our normal time. I found out from her supervisor, Ann, that Lauren had a fever and would not be available for a couple of weeks. Ann provided a backup.
In the last three weeks I have reached out to Lauren a number of times — without success. Ann has had no word from her either. To put it mildly, I’m seriously concerned. I left messages to let Lauren know that I would really like to hear from her. I woke up this morning and realized that the experience provides me with an important lesson. Imagine Lauren had died.
Under those circumstances the first thing is to understand and admit to that. If it were true, I will not see or be able to interact with her in the way I did previously. What I will miss is are our good times together and what she contributed to my life. That realization is called ‘grieving’.
If Lauren were no longer with us, what I have to accept and acknowledge is that times have changed. All I can do is adapt to the new reality and adjust to the new circumstances. Our time together and the services that Lauren provided would no longer be a reality. I’d have to find other ways or resources to fill the gap. That becomes my responsibility and leaves all the adjustments to the loss on me.
What is true for me, is true for anyone else who loses someone that they have relied on for support or companionship. COVID-19 has brought this reality home to many of us. As difficult and painful as it is, it is part of the new reality.
Hopefully, Lauren is okay.