Now and Then

I have to admit this Now and Then post is going to be a tough one to write. The end of the year will be pure shit. No Diwali and no Thanksgiving. Due to being at high risk, we have no pod, no bubble. It’s me, Bhavna and the kids.

I’m struggling to find a then and now photo.

Normally for Diwali festivities, we buy new clothes, decorate our home, and visit each other homes and break each night. On Diwali day itself, we would have a big get together and show the kids with gifts before visiting a Hindu temple. My wife’s father passed away in April from COVID. The family has a year of morning and celebrations are not allowed. COVID would prevent us from gathering anyway.

Except for 2019, when health challenges made things too challenging, our yearly Thanksgiving celebrations are always at my house. The pandemic ended that as well.

Before COVID, but after my surgeries, Bhavna and I planned several trips to vineyards and breweries in upstate New York. We planned to visit New Orleans, the Oregon coast, coastal Spain and Italy. Now, since winter is here, walks outside are challenging, and during the summer walking the neighbourhood was like playing a game of Frogger with pedestrians.

Before COVID, especially during my health challenges, we regularly had a family visit to just hanging out. Now, I see my sister-in-law while she stands on the bottom step, behind a mask.

Before COVID, on the days I worked from home, I would have lunch at the Brick Farm Tavern or PJ Pancake House with a friend and share a beer, laughing and having fun. I haven't seen my friends since March. In the beginning, we had after work Zoom "meetups" at least once a week. But that fell to the wayside as Zoom fatigue set in.

On the days I worked in the office in Iselin or New York City, I would take "coffee breaks" in the afternoon to walk and distress with co-workers. Now, I sit by myself for lunch, staring at a blank wall. My co-workers don't want to do "yet-another-video-conference" at the desk to catch up. Some have small children and use that break to help with homework. Our team seems more disconnected than ever, and we live too far apart to meet up for a social distanced park lunch.

Before COVID, we had two children away at college/university and excited about the future. Now, they're stressed out about what comes next. I don't know how to cheer them up and I have no relevant experience about surviving and graduating into a pandemic economy. Anything I say about the future would be a lie. I'm on the mentorship board for one of my colleges, and I can see seniors are scared and stressed. What do I tell them?

Many things were taken away to be replaced with nothing. I think the only thing that I'm thankful for is that I'm still alive and our adopted rescue cat, Alphie.

Submitted for the 100DaysToOffload project.

Author: Khürt Williams

Gen X-er near Princeton University in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, with a passion for aquariums, terrariums, technology, and photography. I love hiking in the woods, and my eclectic musical tastes span soca, Afrobeat, calypso, 1990s rap, grunge rock, and alternative genres.

19 thoughts on “Now and Then”

  1. margaret21 says:

    It's been a horrible year all round, not seeing family, having everything on mute. Let's hope for better things next year.

    1. I am definitely ready to put 2020 behind me.

  2. Toonsarah says:

    This is such a tough year for so many people. I'm fortunate that a) neither I nor anyone close to me has suffered a bad case of COVID, b) I have my husband's company in lockdowns (I feel for those who live alone), and c) I'm retired so don't need to worry about work issues. But even so I am stressed by the uncertainty of what comes next (I'm someone who likes to plan ahead), the lack of a social life and the impossibility of travelling, which is my passion. Hang on in there, we will get through this one day, and hopefully sooner now that vaccines are on the horizon. I see you live in the US so I hope your new leadership will also improve things there (could we Brits have a new leader too please?!) Alphie looks gorgeous btw, such a beautiful cat 🙂

    1. The new leadership is definitely a hopeful change for better times and the vaccines are a glow on the horizon. Stay safe, Sarah.

  3. JohnRH says:

    As they say, whoever 'they' are, that photo is 'the cat's meow'. 🙂

    1. Thank you, John. Another cat photo post today.

  4. Tobias Mann says:

    I relate to how you’re feeling. The pandemic hit just after we’d gotten settled in Colorado. Just as I was planning flights back to Minnesota and Wisconsin, my plans were dashed. I haven’t seen either of my parents — outside of Zoom calls of course — in nearly two years. This will be our second Thanksgiving spent alone in a house with just the cats and the dog. Christmas celebrations have also been cancelled making the holiday season all the bleaker.

    I have found a lot of solace in my photography this year. It would seem you have too. My fiancé, who I once had to beg to let me take portraits of, now hops at the opportunity to get dress up and get out of the house even if just to take a few pictures. I’m thankful to have her. It would be much harder doing this alone.

    Stay strong. This too shall pass and we will be stronger for it. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Until then, I’ve got my camera to keep me busy. Best wishes! - Tobias

    1. Not seeing your parents in person for two years is tough. I was fortunate to have my mom visit for a few week in February for the first time since 2018. But then COVID!

  5. For consolation, we have a lot of company in this. You are taking the wise choice.

    1. I wonder if some of the protests against mask wearing derives form some form of psychological response to over eight months of living this way?

  6. Jim Grey says:

    This is a time of real loss and grief.

    1. I know Indiana is dealign with a lot right now. Stay safe Jim.

  7. Amy says:

    This is a troubling time for all of us. "I just want a hug." sobbing...
    Steve was right, we must hope that the change coming in 2021.
    Take care and stay safe, Khürt.

  8. That had to be difficult.

  9. Suzy Shipman says:

    Sorry things have been so difficult for you this year. Alphie looks lovely. Maybe you can cuddle with Alphie and enjoy the simple act of stroking a cat and listening to that purr, and perhaps that can take you away from all the stresses, if just for a moment.

    1. Hi Suzy,

      Alphie is still very young and has been with us for just a few months. He’s not yet comfortable with laps or cuddling; we’re working on that. He loves tummy rubs, and I'm always down for that.

  10. It was difficult to read as well. Our lives should not be this way but for many of us they are. Had we the leadership we deserve the damage from this pandemic might be less, not just in lives that we are losing, but in the opportunity to provide for our families and live decent lives. It's hard to believe that the experiences of the Great Depression might be revisited in the foreseeable future but this administration and it's enablers don't seemed very concerned with our future, just their own. I am sorry that you are having this series of difficulties and we must hope that the change coming in 2021 will ease that and go a long way toward returning to something that at least resembles normalcy.

    1. I certainly hope so Steve. During the summer Bhavna and I did a few “social distanced” hangouts with my youngest sister-iin-law, her husband and her kids. We sat in her backyard, eight feet apart. It worked for a while. And then my sister-in-law broke down crying, “I just want a hug. Dad’s dead and I just want a hug.” She was inconsolable. The hangout ended. We’re in a lot of emotional pain.

      I can’t wait to get to what normal feels like after the trauma of living through these times.

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