Letters From Home: 'Life Cannot And Will Not Be Going Back To Before'

Jun 17, 2020

WOSU's Letters from Home collects stories about day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, we heard from Ohioans answering the question: What are you adding back to your life as Ohio reopens?

Read responses to this week's question and other reflections from Ohioans below.

Thazin Nu from Hilliard

Time does not go back. It can only move forward. I add nothing back from the past, pre COVID-19 times. As Ohio reopens, I can only add more layers to my homemade masks. I would like to add, if anything, a face shield as Ohio opens.

As Buddhists, young boys enter monkhood at least once in their life, and girls can likewise enter nun-hood. They engage in a daily round of "begging" for the alms to take back to the nunnery. They don't literally have to beg, there are multitudes of donors every morning, happy to donate rice.

Burma, now Myanmar, is my country of birth. We are a country with an abundance of natural resources but have very limited daily amenities. Electricity and running water are not a given. The British who colonized Burma said, "Burma can be misruled for years."

We have been under the yoke of a very bad military government since 1962 (although now we have a somewhat of a democracy, with the military still wielding power over three very important ministries). In May 2008, Burma was hit hardest by Cyclone Nargis. Dead bodies lay out for not days, or weeks, but months. What did the people do? We helped each other and the government did not lift a finger.

One could say Cyclone Nargis prepared us for COVID-19. Now, as then, people are taking care of their own safety, their own villages, their own subdivisions in the big cities, where there is a rotation of three people who stand guard at the barricades of their subdivision to stop strangers from entering.

In villages, the same practice is applied. If one of the villagers needs to return to his or her village from the city, entry is not permitted due to potential of spreading the virus. Rather, a makeshift hut is built to house the patient.

On a national level, a handful of wealthy businessmen have paid for plane tickets for all returning Burmese nationals from abroad. The monasteries are open to be used as quarantine quarters.

In Brunei Darussalam, where I lived before coming here, the Sultan paid for all the tickets for the students from abroad and quarantined them for two weeks in the palace. In Taiwan, citizens returning from abroad are not only told to self-quarantine but paid a fee to do so. Food is delivered free of charge by the government. But if they break the quarantine, there is a stiff penalty.

Even if COVID-19 were to magically disappear tomorrow, life cannot and will not be going back to before.

What have I added, and not added back to life as Ohio reopens? Caution. Especially since I see young people going back to a life pre-COVID, no mask-wearing, sitting at close quarters in restaurants with patio seating but no table moved farther apart than before. Especially with the protests nationwide and the southern and western states spiking. Especially since there is not vaccine in sight.

Anonymous from Central Ohio

I have not added too much back to my life here on the farm. Other than a haircut and color (praise the Lord!) my sequestered life continues. I am the sole surviving grandparent for my three young grandchildren. They lost two grandparents in one year recently. I simply could not put them through any additional loss.

I keep in touch with them daily by sending the most ridiculous “dad joke” I can find. A bit of serendipity and absurdity seems to be apropos for these times.

Janelle Henderson from Columbus

Protesting, because Black Lives Matter.

Brendan Newcomb from Columbus

This past week, I ventured out to get a haircut, as did my wife and my son. My last haircut was March 1. I usually get a number three on the sides and a four on top. I told the barber I wanted a number two, calling it my pandemic haircut, wanting to just get rid of the past three months and thinking this would get me through the second wave of infections. He talked me into a three all around, which is pretty short and was good advice. A number two would have been too short. 

Cindy Snyder from Canal Winchester

I have been sequestered in my home for three-plus months. I am an older person, so I have been extremely careful. As Ohio reopens, I still believe that the virus is out there. I might venture into a store, which is something that I have not done in the same amount of time. I will always head out to do some forest bathing and get some sun in very safe spots where social distancing is still happening.

I am looking forward to libraries opening up, but will still take every precaution. I am also missing coffee shop time, and that is something I look forward to. I miss baristas and interesting people chatting and sharing stories. Last weekend I went with two very special friends who have also been quarantined to a farm for part of an afternoon. I felt like a new person!

We are social creatures and this virus has been all-encompassing sadness to me. I look forward to being able to be with my family and friends and feel joy again.

Anonymous from Columbus

I'm still social distancing for the most part. I'm still working from home and limiting where I go. I've gone to visit some friends and immediate family, but we still don't hug or get too close.

It's my worry that between the folks rushing to crowded bars, the folks taking trips to beaches and pools for Memorial Day weekend, and the people who refuse to wear masks, we're in for a huge spike in the coming weeks and months.

Barbara Dowell from Gahanna

Sheltering in place
not bringing smiles to my face
my phone is not ringing
plans are not bringing
family and friends to my home
many activities not condoned.

My daughter won’t come here
we all live in fear
of becoming ill
there is no pill
no vaccine
what does this mean?

This nightmare of loneliness
has greatly saddened me
I used to feel free and happy
book club, Mah Jongg, Temple
choir, exercise and more,
not in my plans
when will it end?

Artists paint murals during a recent Art Unites Columbus Event outside of the Ohio Theater.
Credit Ryan Hitchcock / WOSU

This week, Letters From Home continues asking the question: What are you adding back to your life as Ohio reopens?

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.