We have been overjoyed with The Return of Susan around these parts. She’s eating soft solid food, she’s laughing and joking and revelling in her family and the strange and surprising fact of simply being alive.
Our lovely and supportive friends have been tracking down a wheelchair, a walker, a shower seat, a hospital bed – all of the accoutrement necessary for a person in Susan’s situation to live at home. A team of palliative-care personnel is on hand to care for her, and life is, well, rather grand.
Yesterday as we were strolling through town, me pushing the wheelchair with Susan bundled up in multiple blankets, I get a phone call from the local CAP office – the health services who arrange her palliative care – asking if our youngest, 10 year-old G, was in confinement. Confused, I reply that no, he’s at school. Right? Oh, no problem, don’t worry then, the woman says, then clicks off. What the hell was that all about I wonder.
A half hour later G shows up at home for lunch with a long face, and I learn what the hell that was all about. At the door he tells me that someone in his class tested positive for Covid-19, and they’ve all been quarentined for two weeks.
A small, scared, supremely spent portion of my brain said ‘Oh, COME ON MAN! What the fuck is it NOW?’ Then I managed to click into a calm ‘ok-let’s-deal-with-this-latest-shitstorm’ mode and told him to stay where he was, went back in to instruct everyone to stay away from this walking contagion of a little boy, and marched him (at a distance and masked) straight up to his bedroom.
There he remains, sequestered from the rest of us. We’ve installed walkie-talkies in key positions, so we can communicate without contamination. I leave him food at his door as though he’s Monte Cristo in the Chateau d’If. If I hear tunnelling in the night I’ll let you know.
So I’ve worked through some scenarios. The soonest he can get tested is Monday, with results the following day. Until that time he has to remain in his bedroom, with no physical contact with anyone in the house, which includes two people in their late 70s and a 91-pound immuno-compromised mother who almost died a couple of weeks ago.
If he tests positive, he’s got to go. Where? Well, there are some little cat houses someone built for the feral kitties in a local park where I guess he could hole up for a while. I’d bring him food and water. If it’s not raining.
Actually, the best solution would be for G and my sister-in-law (who is a rock, by the way), to stay in an apartment nearby. I could wheel Susan by the windows and we could wave pathetically at each other. If he does test positive, then we’ll all have to be tested. Worst case scenario? (Really? Again with the worst case scenario shit? I feel like we’ve been here before.) The rest of us also test positive and Susan has to go live alone in the little cat houses. Or maybe better if she stays at home and has round-the-clock nursing care. I guess that makes more sense, the more that I look at it.
Add to that an election in the United States in which more or less the future of the world balances on a knife edge, and you might see that things might be a little tense around here. (Since I began writing this last night, Joe Biden has won the White House and the orange monster has been defeated, but I have a sinking feeling that this is not yet over. When we got the news Susan whoohooed for roughly 15 minutes, seriously agitating our neighbors and signigicantly compromising the foundations of our 400 year-old building.)
I won’t even go into the arguments with my mother-in-law about waking Susan for feedings every two hours as though she were a newborn kitten or a wind-tossed and nest-less baby bird, or the fact that she tries to feed Susan stuff that she couldn’t possibly digest. Even so, despite the innate pessimism that has dogged me all my life, I feel good. G will be negative. Susan will remain healthy and strong. This may all be deeply delusional, but I can’t help but feel hopeful. Everything is going to be fine, in the end. And when the end comes, everything is going to be fine.
Today we went for a walk along the beach in Sitges. Dark clouds scudded across the sky from the morning’s rain showers, but sunlight was shining through the gaps, turning patches of green sea into swathes of buffed silver. We promenaded on the Paseo just like hundreds of other people, watching the surfers and feeling the wind wash over and through us, and we felt, I think, that our mere existence was a rarity, a revelation, a wonder.