Outer space: so mysterious yet so exciting for some! My husband happens to be one such person who loves learning about NASA. Recently, we watched a movie about Neil Armstrong. As I reflect on the last 4 months of my own life, one part of that film stands out to me much more now.
When the astronauts arrived back from their first walk on the moon, they were celebrated, and rightly so; what an accomplishment! But immediately following their splashdown in the Pacific, did you know they spent 21 days in isolation—in quarantine? The movie ended with Armstrong in a room behind a plexiglass window, his wife on the other side. They looked at each other with eager anticipation to embrace once his quarantine was over.
You see, the moon was foreign, much like the novel virus, Covid-19. They didn’t know if these men had picked up a foreign microorganism and brought it back to Earth, so health officials deemed it best practice to err on the side of caution. Understandable.
As I watched that movie, I certainly never dreamed that quarantine would be something I’d have in common with our beloved heroes. Yet, here we are. Much like Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins watched their celebratory cake being cut on the opposite side of that plexiglass window, many of us have celebrated milestones over Zoom, on social media, and over the phone. We’ve all longed for social interaction outside our homes and apart from those we share them with. Personally, I thought I was handling my own quarantine experience well until the generosity of a dear friend stirred up emotions I was unaware of.
It was mid-April and my friend had a gift she wanted to drop off. She couldn’t come inside, of course, but the thought of seeing a friend’s face NOT on a screen was so exciting! As her minivan pulled up, I opened my front door and my kids and I watched her place a few bags on our front stoop; it was easily the most entertainment we’d had in days! She then plopped down in the grass and we sat on our steps. Keeping more than a 6-foot distance, her toddler picked dandelions in our front yard and her husband bounced their 8 month old on his hip as we commented on how big the kids had all gotten and laughed at how ridiculous (yet necessary) this interaction felt.
Then her husband stopped mid-sentence as he summed up everyone’s feelings best. He said
“Man, you know, I thought I was handling all of this well up until now. It is just so nice to see you guys.”
After they left, my family and I went back inside, and that’s when the tears began. Our friends were right: we hadn’t realized how desperate we were for social interaction and connection beyond Zoom and text messages until we experienced it. Though brief, it reminded us just how essential relationships are. That is what quarantine has taught me, and what I suspect many of us are realizing during this unique time in our lives. As we move forward and the world begins to open up, may we never take for granted the relationships we get to experience and enjoy together.