They are invisible, each one 50 times smaller than a red blood cell. Yet they have shut down almost the entire world!

I don’t know anyone whose life hasn’t been altered by the pandemic. Not only those who have the dreaded diagnosis “positive,” but all the employees now working at home or thrown out of work, students unable to go to school, any and all of us whose long-planned vacation has to be canceled, and so on – and on….

Many of us are in “voluntary quarantine.” What’s voluntary about it? We have scant choice: isolate or risk infection. If we do venture out we have to stay at least six feet away from any human being. Gone are reassuring hugs or even handshakes. I wonder what kind of people we will be when this Orwellian nightmare is finally over.

In what looms as a perpetual midnight, we need to find glimmers of light. One of the most meaningful ways is to refuse to let isolation equal loneliness, by phoning or E-mailing everyone we care about. We may be far apart geographically, but we don’t have to be distant emotionally. I’m finding many of these conversations have a depth they never had before. Even friends and relatives I seldom had time for are proving to be surprising.

I fight fear and futility by keeping as productive as possible. Just before this crisis broke, I had completed a book about my partner’s struggle with Alzheimer’s and my desperate attempts to keep us connected. We both lost recently and I’m alone. It makes isolation even more challenging. Terrible time to try to get a book published, I thought, but decided to send it to a self-publishing house immediately. Part of me says this is absurd, how could I publicize it without being able to give book talks or send copies to book clubs (that aren’t meeting anyway)? But another part of me stubbornly follows the mantra: “If not now, when?” Besides, if people are isolated they have more time to read!

Aside from phone and computer, I’m finding odd pleasure in finally clearing up all the papers I’d been meaning to sort through for years. A closet I’d hardly dared open is now a model of orderliness. I think there’s something about feeling we’re in charge – even if it’s just a closet – that strengthens us.

This is not to say that isolation is the choice we’d make if life were normal. But isolation and social distancing are the new normal – and we have to salvage what we can. I grasp at whatever encouragement I can find, like the discovery that no less an author than Shakespeare was quarantined by the Bubonic Plague. Fortunately for him, he was unable to waste time by watching endless replays of TV news. Instead he used that enforced isolation to write some of his greatest plays, including King Lear and Macbeth!

I, on the other hand, am merely writing this blog. But blogging is a way of reaching out. Try it for yourself. And feel free to reach back with your comments.

BOOKS: Widow’s Walk – available through; Turning Toward Tomorrow –; Ten Women of Valor and Role Play– both available through and; also Amazon Kindle.