Love letter from a COVID-19 foxhole

In the midst of a pandemic, there is still the simple joy of being out in nature.

There is, I think, cause for optimism, even though the war is just beginning. No doubt, the next couple weeks will be a bumpy ride. Maybe you are one of the fortunate soldiers like me, charged with staying home and flattening the curve. Stationed at my home office, I stand in awe of the health care workers who are serving on the frontlines, risking exposure to coronavirus as they go about their jobs. Their dedication is a daily reminder of the very best of humanity. Here in my Chicago neighborhood, I felt the love, too.

Earlier this week, a neighbor sent out a group email to everyone on our block. He wanted to identify those who would be able to help secure food and supplies for neighbors in need and those who would potentially need assistance. Right away, a whole lot of hands went up with offers to volunteer.

On Monday I had a long phone call with an old friend. We hadn’t done that in quite a while because there never seemed to be time. As we talked, I was sitting in my backyard. It was a cool day, but I felt the sun on my face. I saw a cardinal and noticed all the sprouting plants in my garden.

On Tuesday, I drove over to my favorite local bakery and dinette, Baker Miller, on Lincoln Avenue.  Since all Illinois restaurants are currently closed, Dave, the owner, set up a curbside pickup window. He waved to me when I pulled up. It was raining that morning, and before I even got out of my car, a cheery millennial came running out with my brown bag of lovingly baked sourdough.

Yesterday, my best friend and I exchanged thirty-some texts. We covered a lot of ground, including virus anxiety, recipes for a pandemic, and the latest on our kids. Another close friend has planned a virtual cocktail party. You can practice social distancing without feeling alone.


This is not to downplay the seriousness of our situation. When the pandemic is at last behind us, some will have lost loved ones and fortunes. But I have a feeling that we won’t take things for granted the way we did before. We might finally understand how much we need one another and how one person’s welfare impacts everyone’s welfare. It is just possible that humanity might emerge transformed for the better.

Painting by Mark Zlotkowski

About Mary A. Osborne

Mary A. Osborne is a contributor at Parabola magazine and the author of Alchemy's Daughter and Nonna's Book of Mysteries.
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