Recovering from COVID

Many of us have never had a child, me included, but we all know the expression “It’s like childbirth.”  Eventually the pain and turmoil fade, but you never forget.  Some take it harder than others.  The impact takes many forms, and sometimes the effect hides in your body and your psyche until it shows itself and, at best, surprises you.  Living through the initial outbreak of COVID and the lockdown was full of surprises for me.  

It had been decades since I had spent more than six consecutive months at home.  I remember being full of frustration, almost demanding my employer tell me how long the office would be shut down.  A week?  A month?  Three months?  I mean, come on!  Just tell me so that I can make my plans!  I grasped at scraps of control over my life.  So silly.  It didn’t take too long before I realized that nobody knew anything, and that I was damn lucky to have a beautiful  dog and home and yard that I loved.  

Sixteen months later, when travel companies were again offering a smattering of itineraries, I emailed my dear friend and travel companion to joke about a NatGeo boat trip from Sitka to Juneau.  Her beautiful husky Juneau had died a couple years earlier, and now she had another husky named Sitka.  I joked that the trip should really be the other way around—Juneau to Sitka.  Apparently she took my joke a different way and instead said, “I’m in!”  And suddenly, finally, we were going to take a trip!

The logistics of taking a trip at that time were daunting.  Travel had been getting more and more difficult over the years, ever since 9/11, but COVID took it to a whole new level.  I didn’t care.  I was ready to overcome all obstacles in order, once again, to be able to share a cabin with my friend, be somewhere else, and do something different.  We arrived in Sitka several hours apart, and once we were back together, we picked up where we had left off years before.  Good friends we are.

The next day, we joined another 80 or so people, took yet another COVID test, hiked around a nearby park of wonderful trees, and finally were taken to the boat.  My friend and I found our cabin, had dinner, drank some wine, and spent magical moments looking out over the water.  I hadn’t seen the “big water” for over a year.  It filled my soul and made me realize how parched I had become.  That was the surprise.  I had always known that the water was important to me.  I had not realized that it made me whole.  

Later, the boat pulled out into the channel and we were on our way.  I went to bed, finally relaxing for the first time in months to the gentle rocking of the boat, and felt the tension leak out of my body.  I know my COVID time could have been much worse than it was, but I had been deprived of the world during that time, and I could feel it.  The trip was great.  I was rejuvenated and reawakened.  To be in Nature, on the water, in the trees, with my friend—that is what the Alaska Inside Passage gave me.