If you asked me one month ago what I would be doing on March 17th I would have responded, ” I would be walking with you in your temporary neighborhood in Sydney exploring the sights and bites with the obligatory stop at a pub for a St. Patrick’s Day celebratory drink.” My flight was scheduled to arrive on March 15th and the planned itinerary was kind of up in the air as, although I am an avid planner (as you and your siblings constantly make fun of me for), my intent was for you to lead the way sharing your new home, new friends and new surroundings in your own way. I looked forward to us just being together without any planned excursions so we could be free to do what we wanted at any given moment. I wanted to live like a local, learn like a local, and eat like a local with you by my side. So for the 1st time in my life, I had a blank itinerary. Ok – well almost empty – in full disclosure, I did reach out to the local swimming pools and groups where I could get my morning swims in throughout my stay. I was hoping to surprise you with an early morning swim at the North Sydney Olympic Pool with views of Sydney Harbor and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. But other than that, I was all yours. Trust me, as someone who loves to plan and take advantage of every moment when traveling to a new location, this freewheeling approach was out of character for me but one I was embracing and I know you were excited about too.
However, as the events unfolded last week, I made the difficult decision to cancel my trip. I say difficult because your two younger siblings – were in a period of transition. Your sister was still waiting to hear how her university was going to respond to Coronavirus and your brother in high school was preparing to transition to online learning at home. Thank you for understanding as the risk of leaving them alone was not an option given the circumstances. Although your brother did try to reassure me that if in the unfortunate situation I was in fact quarantined upon my return, he promised he would be fine at home alone and he would write to me often!
Difficult, because as a parent in unpredictable and downright scary situations, our natural instincts are to gather and protect our family. To hug them and to look them in the eyes and tell them everything will all work out in the end. I wanted to hug you, to look you in the eyes and to reassure you all will be ok.
Difficult because although you are so far away, I know you are safe right now. You have housing, you have food, your classes are still ongoing at the University, you have personal and professional contacts you can call upon should the need arise, and you have access to medical care. It is hard to “not do anything or something” right now when what we really need to do is nothing at all. It is harder than we ever anticipated.
As the coronavirus has changed our daily lives for the moment, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation both personally and professionally. We have to adapt, as we are out of our comfort zone. We have to listen, as we will overcome this. We have to share, as our community needs our knowledge, our strength, our patience, and most of all, our kindness. Everyone is pulling together and that is what will guide us through these next couple of months.
Although you and I are feeling disappointed, frustrated, angry, tired, and maybe even feeling a tad hopeless, I want you to know you have a community to support you both near and far. Everyone is pulling together and that is what will guide us through these next couple of months. Take this time to reflect, recharge, and read because when the time comes and we can travel again, I will be there with my walking shoes, cap and goggles, ready to explore, listen, laugh, and smile. Until then, thank goodness for WhatsApp.
Be safe and I love you.
Photo Courtesy Unsplash, Andrew Neel