Yesterday, I had dinner with my brother from another parents on a nice terrace with sufficient space between the customers. It was so relaxing, especially after an intense work day in the heat, followed by a quick virtual drink with my team, and cycling hastily so I won’t be even more late than I was (as a punctual person, I feel guilt every time I make someone wait, and I hate to have to wait myself), that it felt like I was in Spain.
My brother, the reason he became my brother since before my last dinner party, where he got me what I needed so I don’t need to make another trip. Unlike with my other friends, who could bring something as they desired, I felt comfortable enough to ask my brother whatever I was still missing for the evening. And whenever we went out, he’ll never leave me alone at the end of the night. Aside from being one family from the Christian sense, I trust him, knowing that there’s never any feeling between us aside from the familial. With that trust, he has always been honest with me, and told me how shocked he was reading about “My Last Words.” He said: “You just got a new job, new house, and then you’re making a will. You’re way too young to think about making a will.” I suppose he said to me what many didn’t.
But I told him that just because everything is going well right now does not mean I should be reckless with my risk management. Yes, I have a job surrounded by people I like, whose drive and intelligence inspire me on a daily basis. I have an employer who invests in my personal development and cares about us to the extend that we can take siestas during the heat and finish our work as we see fit. My living space as well as my home office are set up to my comfort and ergonomic well being, though I do experience other stress with my roommate who moved in after me and is not careful with corona and does not have the luxury of working from home. Her having guests every day (who don’t always wash their hands) and parties every weekend (during corona time) was not what I had in mind when I moved here (I needed more space for my home office), and is creating more stress at home. I had identified my struggle to love people so profoundly different and have been praying for strength.
But my scare was that I did not feel optimal on the day my father visited, now two weeks ago. I didn’t want to reschedule it again as we had looked forward to it, and I assumed it was an exhaustion because I was getting used to the intensity of my new job. When I started to have a cough I was even more worried, because I did not want to have accidentally made him sick. The man is getting older and has health issues, works in his garden these days, and is careful with his social contacts. He only came to me, and despite being careful myself, I have been going to places, and living with a younger and vibrantly not-careful person. Imagine my stress and worries and guilt, so I ended up praying. For me to take upon whatever he would have to suffer. I was relieved that the cough disappeared, it was related to hey fever and a mosquito incense I had breathed in during my sleep.
But last weekend, I was reckless myself. I came back from a dinner party at a friend’s terrace on Friday and found my roommate (f) having a little gathering, and I joined. On Saturday we were supposed to have a house party with our new roommate (m) who moved in downstairs when more of her friends showed up. She hugged me, as well as others. We did not keep distance. I think the weather made me feel like life continued as it was supposed to be. Since we lived together, and shared a kitchen together, it’s not like 1,5m distance will protect us from anyone. I went to church on Sunday (wearing a mask just in case as there are many old people) and had lunch. Worked on Monday, when the headache started. I suppose it was more house work related unnecessary stress next to a hectic work environment and finding time for a new compliance course on the combat of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. Woke up the next day drowsy but good enough to work at home when I found out that my roommate got sick and stayed at home sleeping. That cannot be a coincidence, I thought. She thought she partied too hard that weekend, but I called for a corona test anyways. (Didn’t want to walk around infecting people.) That night, I felt a repeated pull in my heart (which is supposed to be a severe corona symptom), when the new roommate sent us the Beirut blast video just when I was preparing for bed. Considering my degrees and the nature of my work, I always stand still when such catastrophes take place. It was the exact reason why I turned to God: in search of the good in the world.
I regret that it was still on my mother’s birthday when I wrote my will. But life and death has always been closely intertwined. As a Catholic, I should not be afraid of going Home. Despite being a workaholic, I make the most out of my life. Caring for the people I just met, or even don’t know, let alone loving my family and friends. I struggle with certain people, and I will continue to try my best. I know that God loves me despite of my imperfections, but my love for Him has inspired me to take upon His example, of loving even more profoundly the people who make me struggle.
The next day I went for a test (I specifically scheduled it until after my training, and at a location more convenient to get there by bike), it was a quick discomfort through my nose and throat. That was Wednesday afternoon. They told me they’ll let me know the latest on Saturday. So I had already cancelled my plans for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, when they called me Thursday morning, just while I was having another training. My colleague said she would have picked it up. But of course I didn’t, and while I was waiting anxiously for they called me back so soon, I found a way to contact them, and got the result. “Your result is negative, Ma’am, you don’t have corona.” I don’t think I was ever so relieved, because if I don’t have it, I could not have given it to my father, and can continue to go to the church and proceed with my summer plans. (Of course there is another reason for the pull I experienced around my chest muscles on Tuesday night and why I feel a weirdness between my lungs, but that’s my non contagious problem. I won’t exclude the relation with all the second handed smoking from my neighbours since I moved in here, but it’s not something that will affect another.) My roommate said on Thursday that she too wants to feel as good as I did, so made a corona appointment for Friday, but has been out without having her result back. She was upset with me when I asked her if she didn’t want to join me when I was scheduling my test, especially when the first appointment would have been during my training, and I had to reschedule it, and now she finds it too hot to stay at home, I don’t even feel comfortable to mention that she’s supposed to stay at home until her result, so I only asked her to keep distance from people. Luckily, she just texted me that she’s heathy too.
I’m too old for this shit.
What I learnt from this experience is that there are so many compassionate people out there who express their concerns when I was unwell. My doctor offered to test me himself if I preferred. I thought it will be more responsible to go to the test tent the official center had set up. Even my pharmacist delivered my medicine (for hey fever) at home since I couldn’t go out and wished me a speedy recovery. Every now and then it confuses me how some people can be so selfish and others so warm and generous. It reminds me that the more I experience the warmth the more I struggle to understand the selfishness, but the more I experience selfishness, the more I’m delighted with the warmth. This means that I should be ever more mindful about the response I chose to give back into the world. And even if people take advantage of my kindness, I can chose not to let them in a kind way. What I also learnt was that there is nothing shameful if we do get corona, you have lived your life and shit happens. Just be careful that you don’t infect more people, because some people can die and the doctors are already overwhelmed. That’s why the measures from the government(s) are here for.
Yesterday, when I met my brother, we came to the conclusion that I need to start looking for another place as this is adding unnecessary stress to me. I am grateful to have lived with people so profoundly different from the people in my life, that I am learning – albeit in a hard way – how to co-exist and negotiate our differences. I just prefer not to do it at the comfort of my own home where peace and tranquility reside.
And my will? He asked. I told him that’s the one good thing that came out of this. For me to realise what I truly care about in my life. Nothing material, just the people in my life, and continue to do good.