Dear Diary: The whole world is on edge

CBC Calgary wants to know how you are living these days. What are you doing differently? Have you learned, realized or observed anything? 

This is the first instalment of our series, Dear Diary: In a Time of COVID-19, written by Margie Holmes. She’s a warehouse worker in Calgary. This submission has been edited for clarity and length.

Happy birds woke up the neighbourhood as usual this morning, and it was a pleasant distraction. Usually I would grumble to myself about their annoying existence but lately their reliable energy feels comforting.

I went downstairs in the dark to have my first smoke of the day in front of my fireplace, as I have been doing for a decade. My phone was beside me but I resisted the urge to read the updated reality of the world. Even without technology there is change all around me.

No longer do I hear the neighbours on the left opening and closing their front door, heading off to work at exactly 5:45 a.m. The neighbours on my right have also been eerily quiet for the last few weeks. I can hear them growing frustrated in their attempts to keep their two young children entertained. I have only seen either family a few times in passing before the pandemic. Both are polite and quiet, newcomers to Canada. Language barriers make conversation difficult but the desire to have a good life in Calgary is one we all share.

As I write this, I remember the day I left P.E.I. in 2008 to start a new life in a city with only three familiar faces to welcome me. All these years later I am still fascinated by strangers on the CTrain, pondering their lives and journeys behind my sunglasses. I know the excitement and fear of facing the unknown with no one to catch you, missing your family so much that you cry in the bathroom at your new job.

Reading the news after my breakfast, those familiar feelings come rushing back, except this time I don’t feel alone. The whole world is currently on edge, bombarded with information and uncertainty, wondering who will save us. Frightening statistics and predictions cannot be avoided, distractions and curiosity fight against each other as spring arrives. I have quickly learned during this pandemic and quarantine to limit my time reading the news and how to safely enjoy my patio when the sun is out.

Plans to swim in the Atlantic ocean and hug my family and friends may not happen this summer, but they are healthy and safe which is most important at the moment. When I took out the garbage earlier today and realized the mall across the street had an empty parking lot, I felt like I was living in a dark movie.

Tears came to my eyes as I thought of how many people and families are now facing unexpected financial and mental stress. Maybe a quick nap will put my mind at ease. I will count my blessings and dream of laughter and my feet in the sand.

Life is so unpredictable but the birds keep singing. There must be a lesson in all this madness and stories to tell.

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