Letters From Home: 'I Have Decided To Choose My Words More Carefully'

Aug 13, 2020

WOSU's Letters from Home is collecting stories about our day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we heard from more Ohioans who shared reflections on decisions they've made in light of COVID-19. 

Lilli-ann Buffin from Columbus

As COVID-19 rages, the rhetoric about the pandemic has become increasingly dangerous. I have decided to choose my words more carefully both now and in the future. This pandemic experience has highlighted just how much words matter in characterizing the things that happen to us.

What if officials had described the virus as a weather event and a storm instead of an invisible enemy and a war? Storms are familiar. They blow over. We know what steps to take in a storm. Wars are unfamiliar. They rage on for years. We don’t know what to do.

Storm protocols demand compassion and cooperation. Wars breed hatred and mistrust. Warfare encourages resistance and violence. In a storm people choose safety, not sides.

Rain and storms are temporary; they blow over. Enemies remain forever suspect; war changes life permanently. We are happy to take shelter in a storm. Hiding from an enemy fuels outrage.

When we hear a storm is coming, we do not denigrate the weather man. We respond to the forecast and the growing sense of urgency in order to calmly prepare and protect ourselves. The threat of war creates disbelief, naysayers, propagandists, and chaos.

Storms bring out a spirit of community both in preparation and in recovery. In war, people hold their ground and their grudges; they fight over the spoils.

During storms we remain vigilant but hopeful, realistic and prayerful. We acknowledge the powerful spiritual elements of nature and try to find meaning in our tempestuous circumstances. In war, hope, faith, and meaning become casualties. Some people lose God and never recover. The grief can be insurmountable.

I wish our leaders had been more careful with their words during this pandemic. Now, it is up to the rest of us to re-characterize our experience and choose words that help and words that heal.

Richard Hoffman from Columbus

Each month, I have been putting away money in the credit union in what we called the “vacation fund.” Since it is not a great time to travel, we have decided to use the money for upgrades to the trailer that we have next to Hargus Lake in Circleville.

Since we can't travel, we decided that Hargus Lake was our trip this year. So far, we have depleted the vacation fund and a little more by buying a replacement door that is needed and getting 7 tons of gravel to clean up our parking lot at the trailer. We also made use of the gravel to make a pad for the new golf cart that we just bought.

Our son and grandsons helped spread gravel along the front of the porch at the trailer. So now we can enjoy our fishing destination – the trailer at the lake – and join the parade of golf carts that go through the campground.

We actually have enjoyed the time we have to sit back and relax since we don't have meetings to go to and we “attend” church online. We were getting too busy in our retirement. Our mental health has greatly benefited from the decisions to upgrade our campground experience. My wife and I are really enjoying the ability to just sit back and watch the world go by.

Rami Ungar from Columbus

I decided to make the most of the time trapped inside. I figured if I was going to be spending a bunch more time inside my apartment than usual, then I might as well take advantage of it. Since March, I've started working out more, written several new stories I hope to publish someday, and even did a bit of traveling while cases were lower (don't worry, I wore a mask and isolated for two weeks afterwards).

I don't know if I'll be traveling again anytime soon, given how things are getting worse. But I will keep trying to make the best of a bad situation. It beats giving in to fear or going into denial, anyway.

A flower blooms at Inniswood Metro Gardens.
Credit Ryan Hitchcock / WOSU Public Media

This week, Letters From Home continues asking the question: Have you contracted COVID-19? What would you like to share about your experience?

Answer this question using the form below, and try to keep below 1,000 words. Your response may be edited for length and clarity.

WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.