The other day, I told a nice lady at the grocery store about Lily’s Pad. I explained that it was a place for kids with compromised immune systems who were living isolated and quarantined. She sagely nodded and said, “oh yes, you mean like we are all living right now” and then continued on her way. I know she wasn’t trying to be offensive or rude. And I know she probably even thought she could relate. But it was all I could do to not chase her down the aisle to explain how vastly different the situations really were.
I will say that when the pandemic first hit, we all kind of thought it would help strengthen the support for Lily’s Pad. People would live somewhat isolated and would realize how not fun it is and then they would get to return to regular life and look back on their tough times and just feel compelled to donate to us. (Picture piles of money raining down!). However, as restrictions have continued and people find themselves living in a different world, I’m staring to think there’s a mistaken belief that we are all in the same boat. And I have to say, that’s just not the case.
No, nice lady at the grocery store, what I’m talking about is not like how you are living right now. And this is where it gets ugly and not fun to talk about and probably not necessarily something you want to read while you’re sipping your morning coffee. I’m talking about what it is like to live in quarantine and isolation WHILE your hair is falling out, your skin is peeling off, your eyebrows and lashes have disappeared, your legs are aching, your stomach is sick, your face is twice its normal size and your appetite has soured so badly everything you eat tastes like metal. I’m talking about living like that when you are facing surgeries for your heart defects or transplants for organs that aren’t functioning. I’m talking about watching your siblings leave the house to run and play while you are stuck inside alone. I’m talking about looking out the window at a world that is going on all around you and you can’t participate in it. I’m not talking about what it feels like to be a kid wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer while playing at the playground where ALL THE OTHER KIDS are also in the exact same boat as you. And I’m not talking about what it feels like to send your HEALTHY kid out into environments where they may be exposed to germs and infection.
Please don’t misunderstand. I hate this pandemic as much as the next person. I miss my son’s school concerts, having Sunday brunch with my husband and happy hour with my best friends. I miss looking at people and seeing their faces smile and hearing their voices not muffled behind masks. It is, undoubtedly, a horrible experience and one that I can’t wait to have end and can’t wait to never repeat. But there is one huge, underlying difference to what is happening in our world right now versus what is happening to these kids we are trying to help. The difference is simple, it’s happening to all of us. We are all restricted. We all have to wear masks and use sanitizer and stand six feet apart from each other. If we didn’t get to go to the movies, no one else got to go either. If we couldn’t play on the playground, no one else could either. This whole thing we are going through, most plainly stated, 100% sucks. But it sucks for all of us. Together. And none of the bad stuff I mentioned above is happening to us at the same time as we are going through it and that’s an even bigger difference.
So, please remember this. Yes, you are getting a little taste of life with a focus on immunity and germs and infections. Yes, you have lost some of your freedoms and you are missing out on some of the stuff you love. But even as I write this, pretty much everything is opening back up. You’re going to get your life back. But keep your memory of this time with you. I know I will. I will use it to power me through the challenges of city codes and expensive buildouts to focus on this one truth…I have no idea what it feels like to live isolated and quarantined like an immunocompromised child does…but in the year 2020, I got a taste of it. And I didn’t like it.
Director of Operations at Lily’s Pad and Occasional Soap Box Preacher