Pandemic Diaries Explore The New Not Normal

We told you about the Morris Museum COVID-19 History Project, where you can record your experience with the coronavirus pandemic.

You can also share your stories at Pandemic Diaries. Baristaville’s Debbie Galant took her existing Midcentury Modern blog and renamed it as Pandemic Diaries a few weeks ago. Since then, she’s received dozens of journal entries from all over the world.

One of them was close to home, Galant’s own husband, Warren Levinson, who writes about his mother’s death and the surreal experience of a burial in the time of the coronavirus.

Levinson writes:

We are in gloves and masks. We keep our breath, our hands and our tears to ourselves. Though in handing me the papers to sign, the cemetery rep moistens the index finger on his (bare) hand to find the right page, which freaks me out a little.

Per instructions, we have brought our own shovel for the traditional dropping of dirt on the casket. A custom, the rabbi says, born of the idea that it’s the one favor you can’t repay.

The rabbi is good. Thorough. A day earlier, he assembled about a dozen of us (via Zoom again) to get stories for a eulogy. He hoovered up some of the best, so I edit on the fly, paring my own eulogy down to the basics to avoid repetition. That she was smart, funny and athletic. That she wasn’t such a fan of children in general, but still had four of her own, whom she loved deeply and imperfectly. That she taught by example that the bonds with siblings and cousins endure, regardless of time, distance and disagreement. That a wisecrack represents the highest form of human expression.

Then Kaddish (I still use the Ashkenazic pronunciations; all the dead people I know would think I had developed a speech impediment if I started using the Sephardic).

And then it was over. Like Mom’s eighty-nine and a half years, too soon. But the cemetery’s pandemic rules limit the grounds to one funeral at a time, so we have to make way for the next one. And maybe it’s a relief, given the bitterly cold wind. We take a quick glance at the graves of the other family members, but can’t even afford the time to drop stones on their markers.

Shiva Sunday. Zoom again.

Read Levinson’s entire entry here.

Pandemic Diaries welcomes you to share the new not normal, in words, drawings, or photographs. Submit your diary here.

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