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Sarah Einstein

Each morning now, my husband Dominik and I ask each other how we are doing instead of saying good morning. Our answers range from “pretty okay today” to “not so great,” and we have stopped saying “let’s plan to have a good day today,” because then we just feel worse if one or the other of us doesn’t. Today is bad day for both of us, which is some small grace, because it's easier when our bad days synch up and neither of us has to worry that we’re making the other more unhappy than they need to be.

We both have what we think are the lingering aftereffects of COVID-19, though our symptoms could be seasonal allergies or just general malaise. For three weeks, we were pretty sick, but couldn’t get tested. Now, we could be, but our doctor says it’s been so long we’d test negative so it hasn’t felt worth venturing out to do so.

In early March, my father died of what we and his doctors suspect was COVID-19, but he too couldn’t be tested then because West Virginia had no tests. In some ways, this is a blessing. My sister and I were able to sit with him until the end. He died as we sang “Mercedes Benz” to him and hoped he was too far into the morphine to hear us.

His ashes are on a shelf in my closet. Some days, I avoid the closet altogether. Dominik and I both dress in sweats and t-shirts straight from the dryer right now anyway. Other days, I take out the cardboard box that holds my fourth of his remains and cradle it. Both of these reactions, I know, are a little pathological. It’s a strange time to be grieving.

We meant—my sister, one of my brothers, and I—to go and scatter his ashes in the Shenandoah valley. I assume that some day we will, but there is no knowing when. On bad days like this one, I wonder if I will see my family at all before we have vaccine. On worse days, I wonder if there will ever be a vaccine. There is not one, after all, for HIV or the common cold.

I think a lot about those five men on the Roosevelt who have tested positive for the virus a second time.

So we are not okay, at least not today. But we are, at least, okay with not being okay. And if you are also not okay, we hope you’re learning to be okay with that. Things will get better, and though none of us can say when, that does not make it any less true.

How are you?

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