Gimme Shelter

Today is a day of more big changes here at home. 

Last week Tuesday was my last day of regular work at school. I was given three days of work from home and a choice: continue to work this week at various places from day to day, out in the community, or accept temporary unemployment with a flexible callback date and the ability to keep health insurance.

There was a difficult, internal civil war on the Gettysburg of my mind. 

Do I continue to work with and support the clientele we serve, individuals in need of various kinds of support, doing the work I’ve dedicated my life to for over six years now? Do I wake up each morning and go somewhere potentially different from the day before, becoming a potential vector for COVID-19, bringing the pandemic home with me?

Or do I take the temporary layoff and begin to shelter in place? Do I reduce the risk of exposure and begin to adjust to a new way of living? Do I keep things running at home as my wife still goes off to work each day still?

In the end, I chose the temporary layoff. It tore me up and still does. The last time I made a choice that hard, I was signing a child custody agreement. 

And my dedicated colleagues each made their decisions. Some took the layoff. Others opted to continue working. I don’t fault any of them for whichever decision they made. The path we’re all on now, I hope it works out for the best and brings us back together someday in the not too distant future.

Anyway, when we woke up Wednesday, I was home, and that’s where I’ve stayed since then, except for walks in the fresh air.

The hardest part of my home situation (work decision aside) was at 5:15 a.m. that morning, when my wife and I, with dog in tow on her leash, walked to the driveway, and I sent her on her way to work. I wanted her to stay home. She wanted to stay home. But her work situation was different than mine, and that situation is unchanged.

What a long damn day Wednesday was. And Thursday. And Friday. 

Over the weekend, my wife came to her own decision. It had to be hers. She sought input from me and others, but the conclusion was her own.

This morning at 5:15 a.m., she was still home, laying in bed next to me. And she’ll stay home. At least for a while. She wasn’t given the difficult choice between work and partial unemployment like I was. She was put between a rock and a hard place. The rock: stay home, physically distancing from the outside world, using up vacation time and sick days, then going on unpaid leave. The hard place: continuing to draw a paycheck while working every day under less than ideal safety precautions.

My rock chose the rock.

And for the umpteenth time in less than a week, our lives have changed drastically. But I’m breathing easier than I have in a while. My best friend is home, right where she belongs.

And we take shelter together.

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