March 15. The day it all started. The day I was directed to work from home. The day I began to limit my contact with others in an effort to keep myself, my family, my friends and my community healthy.

My contact with the outside world was, and continues to be, limited to picking up groceries and mail. There are no meet and greet opportunities in the grocery store aisle. No running into friends while grabbing a cup of coffee at the café. No quick conversations while fueling up at the gas pumps.

Dee Menear/Franklin Journal

The last two weeks have been a steady rotation of coffee, shower, food, work, walk and sleep.

I still have all the wonders of technology and feel more connected than ever. I mean, everyone knows where I am and how to get a hold of me. And, chances are, I’m probably not all that busy at any given moment.

There have been video chats with family and friends, Zoom meetings for work, and an overwhelming number of texts, messages and emails.

I have watched my kids laugh, shared a toast with a friend, checked in with my parents and worried with a co-worker. All without being in the company of another soul!

I am definitely connected but I miss the physical element with an ache so strong it makes my eyes water. I can’t remember the last time I had a meaningful face-to-face conversation … or shared a spontaneous moment of laughter with a friend … or wiped a tear and shared a hug of support with another human being.

I long to feed the social aspect of my being. I want to look someone in the eye and talk to them, feel their emotions, watch their body language …. make a connection.

It wasn’t long after the work-from-home directive came in that I realized there are folks who live this lonely existence every day of their lives. There are shut-ins and elders right in my community that must crave those same interactions.
For me, this isolation is temporary but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a heartbreakingly lonely existence.

It breaks my heart to think that, for some people, this moment in time might not be any different than last month or last year.

If my lesson in all this is to be more in tune with an invisible population, it is a lesson that has been learned. I don’t know when it will happen but I can assure you I will be sharing some of this pent up socialness in the company of at least one such person.

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