I confess: Sometimes I crack open my door a smidgen to see your back for one fleeting second as you collect the covered tray and retreat into your lair. I cover my mouth, hold my breath, watch with wide eyes and silently take you all in. I miss you. But I am afraid of you. You’re typically the picture of health — if this virus gives you a run for the money, what would it do to me?
We are in hour 68 of the 72 hour fever-free window you must pass before being released from quarantine. Your telemedicine appointment outlines detailed guidelines for coming out of isolation safely. We must avoid accidental exposure to lingering infection by the thorough washing of bedsheets, careful cleaning of surfaces, mindful removal of anything used, flinging open of windows and airing out of fear. I must remember to ask the doctor: What is the half-life of fear?
By phone I tell you that I cannot wait to sit with you on the couch, gaze into your beautiful dark eyes, and talk about our feelings forever. You jokingly ask if that is your punishment. I don’t just laugh, I sigh in release. Your sense of humor is back, the graciousness of that delicious gift. I exhale deeper.
Post-quarantine, will I hold you tighter, appreciate you deeper, focus on you better?
Or when trash day rolls around next week, will we struggle with the minutia and get trapped by tempting old arguments?
Will this virus engrave in our hearts the preciousness, and how fleetingly it can all disappear?
Or will we find ourselves mindlessly debating the best way to load the dishwasher or the ideal number on the thermostat?
Let us commit to an even deeper way to connect after this necessary distancing, after this imposed time apart.
May I forever look at you with the same longing as when you step out of isolation today …. the same man that I fell deeply in love with 32 years ago during graduate school, walking the banks of the Charles River, playing guitar at 2 a.m., dancing in your underwear and making me laugh like no one else.
Welcome back to my world, sweetest love.
Lisa J. Wise is vice chair of member services for the International Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia Foundation.