Well March, it has definitely been interesting…and long, and hard, and shocking. I thought nothing could rival the February we had with Beau’s two-week stay in the NICU, but this third month of 2020 brought with it an entirely new set of challenges.
As I look back at the start of the month, it is almost hard to recognize that life. I was living in our house in Myrtle Beach and spending some sleepless nights with Beau. I was taking Sloan on play dates to the trampoline park, Dave & Buster’s, and the library. We were attending mass, eating out at restaurants, and visiting Sid’s family. For that first week of March I had few responsibilities, other than a newborn, and the phrase “social distancing” wasn’t even in our country’s lexicon.
After those first several days, our urgency to pack up our house grew much more intense. Preparing for the movers was top priority as we boxed up our belongings and made arrangements for a cross-country move.
On March 11, an 18-wheeler turned onto our street and pulled up to our house. That hot day was spent supervising the guys who were filling their massive truck with our possessions. Still a little detached from the crisis that was starting to impact our country, we focused on emptying the house as quickly as possible so Sid, Sloan, Beau, and I could spend the next 48 hours together at my in-laws before I had to leave the state.
What a strange day March 12 was. Sidney and I returned to the house in the morning to clean and haul some trash. As we drove back to my in-laws, I listened to the radio as conference basketball tournament after conference basketball tournament was canceled due to coronavirus fears. Many other developments would unfold during the day as a swift signal was being sent that it would no longer be business as usual.
Against this uneasy backdrop, I bought a cake for Sloan so we could celebrate her birthday just a little bit early. On the eve of my last day in Myrtle Beach, with our country about to enter full crisis mode, I got to watch my little girl blow out three candles on her birthday cake.
It was Friday the 13th when I hopped on a plane that would take me to Washington. After saying goodbye to Sloan and Beau, Sidney drove with me Charleston where I caught my flight. In the next several hours I would go from sunny and 75 degrees to snow and below freezing temperatures. Although the climate change was an adjustment, my heart was warmed that night to see my parents. As we drove through the snowy roads of Spokane to their house, I noticed that it was a few minutes before midnight. We had not even completed two weeks of March yet and it had already felt like an eternity.
That mid-March weekend was spent prepping for my new job and acclimating to my new surroundings. I got some rest and dealt with some nerves. My parents, sister, brother, and their families all welcomed me home. On Saturday, we were still able to attend mass and eat at a restaurant. But as the “prodigal son” theme played out, the governor of Washington was about to issue some strict social distancing guidelines.
I started at Washington State University on Monday, March 16. It was a perfect first day but it occurred as Gov. Inslee ordered the shutdown of public gathering spots such as gyms, restaurants, and libraries. That afternoon, our department was told to work from home for the next couple weeks.
A new world had been ushered in that consisted of daily President Trump news conferences, front to back coronavirus newspaper coverage, and “Tiger King” binge watching. I couldn’t help but feel sad that I wasn’t with my wife and children to go through this transition with them. However, thanks to the support of Sid, I was able to manage. The first full week of work, even though the majority of it took place from home, was fulfilling and exhilarating as I learned about the WSU culture and contributed to our COVID-19 response.
As the second half of March rolled on, social distancing measures became stricter. Washington issued a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order that made staying in one’s house a necessity. The second week of my Washington State University tenure took place exclusively at home but I did manage to make the trip to Pullman for an entirely different reason. After more than two weeks since the movers picked up our belongings in Myrtle Beach, they had finally arrived in Washington with our cargo. The world was completely different since the last time I saw these guys in South Carolina and it seemed like two months, not two weeks, had passed. As I watched the belongings of Sidney, Sloan, and Beau be placed in the storage unit, I couldn’t stop thinking about them.
This past weekend rolled around and we spent more time at the house as grim news about the virus continued to roll in. Although I didn’t get to celebrate Sloan’s birthday (except for the early celebration) I had the pleasure of celebrating my sister’s birthday for the first time in years on Saturday. The fifth Sunday of the month was once again marked by watching mass on the computer.
As the work day ended this evening, I found myself deep in thought about what a wild ride this month has been. Then, in what can only be described as the craziest and most appropriate way to end March 2020, something extraordinary happened––an earthquake shook the ground. Seriously, I can’t write this stuff.
On many levels, this month was unforgettable. It was an emotional rollercoaster with plenty of stress and surprises. Looking forward to April, I am counting down the days until I see my family again while hoping for 30 days of progress for our country. Let’s pray. Don’t Blink.