Searching for Lost Time in a New Phase of Covid-19


The Washington Post recently published an article “In Search of Lost Time” that encapsulated a view that is right on except it might have been published somewhat too soon for much of the country, especially the South and the West.  Because we do not yet know what states are gaining and which are losing in the battle against the Covid-19 virus, and in any event, that description can change at any time, an article describing thoughts on even partial reopening carries the risk it may be out of date by publication date.  We do not yet know where Pennsylvania will be a week or month or several months from now.

For us, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, having just on June 26, been reclassified from “yellow” to “green”, the article makes some interesting points I have not seen elsewhere.  Admittedly, we worry that people may be carried away, join large crowds, throw caution to the winds, discontinue wearing masks and take other risks but we begin to venture cautiously beyond. 

The other side of the equation is what do we do when we “come out” even slightly. The question is how do we reset time when so many things have been eliminated or postponed.  Do we continue?  Do we reschedule a month or three or six months from now?  Do we leave everything open trusting that we will eventually know whether that conference or meeting (or wedding or celebration) will take place?  Then there is the question when do we actually return to something that we once considered “normal.”  Others follow.  How do we separate what is “essential” from what is “non-essential”  activities, not just businesses. 

Mary Laura Philpott, in the article describes a “quiet thrill” when she could remove some items from her schedule.  Obviously she was not thrilled by a deadly disease.  Still, she was happily willing to skip a dental checkup and to know that it was not necessary to file taxes by April 15.   “July is the new April, for accountants anyway.”

Then, she said “As the country reopens in different phases from state to state – in some cases retreating before advancing again – I feel relieved to be able to tiptoe out of isolation and put at least a little of life’s regular maintenance back on the calendar…”  Then she described “But reopening doesn’t feel entirely like relief…”  This is where she makes an interesting point.  “Nothing is happening when it’s supposed to, but it all has to happen sometime.”  This also comes with unexpected stress, although not the immediate and serious stress of living with the most extreme stages of the disease.

From my perspective, this is what I have been seeing.  As people “come out” those postponed items seem to need to be done immediately.  The document that did not need to be completed or filed then, now does.  The major life decision becomes immediate.  The stress to get things done and get them done now begins to build.

The author describes the reopening of the legal system, for example.  “When courtrooms shut down across the country this spring, countless people were left waiting to settle disputes, finalize divorces and hold hearings on issues from custody to child support…”  That was only the beginning.  It can be stressful.

The author went on to describe a story when she was pregnant and expecting to give birth in December.  The miscalculation was slight but significant.  She and her husband had built up preparation for Christmas for their toddler son expecting their next child would be born somewhat before or after.  It did not work that way and she needed to give birth on Christmas.  She and her husband noted a toddler does not know the date and they “readjusted” the calendar (using a slight deception) to make their toddler believe Christmas fell on a different date.

As she notes “You may be nearly 41 by the time you have your 40th birthday bash…”  It has some positives.  “Waiting whether we wanted the wait or not, provides time to think…That’s why people say ‘Let’s sleep on it.’”  Be well.

About the Author Janet Colliton

Esquire, Colliton Law Associates, P.C. Janet Colliton has practiced law for over 38 years, 37 of them in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her practice, Colliton Law Associates, PC, is limited to elder law, Medicaid, including advice, applications and appeals, and other benefits planning including Veterans benefits, life care and special needs planning, guardianships, retirement, and estate planning and administration.

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