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Still holding her hand — but washing them first

Before the coronavirus pandemic altered life as we know it, I had a moment that gave me pause.

I had written yet another story about the coronavirus, and was still trying to absorb the possible impacts as it related to the Suffolk community and beyond. But I was also, and still am, trying to absorb the impacts to my own family — in particular my wife and daughter and my parents.

The pause came as I arrived to my apartment late after a long day of work, and my 3-year-old daughter was having trouble going to sleep. I went to go tuck her in and paused for a moment when she asked to hold my hand.

Now, I had washed my hands before greeting her, and I had changed out of my work clothes, but because I was still going out to various places in Suffolk and to stores, and because I encounter a lot of people in the scope of my work, I hesitated for a moment to touch her hand and give her a hug.

Even with social distancing, and religiously washing my hands and using hand sanitizer while singing 20-second songs, I worried in that moment about holding her hand, like I had done hundreds of times before. I worried about giving her hugs and kisses. I just worried.

But after that pause, I had another thought.

I can’t deny my daughter the affection and love she needs, and that comes in the touch of a hand, a hug, and kisses on the cheek. It also comes in other actions, such as making sure I take every precaution health experts tell us to do while taking care when I do have to go out for an assignment or to put gas in my car.

We have adjusted as a family as much as possible to this new normal.

We’ve kept our daughter off of playgrounds, opting instead for isolated outdoor places where we wouldn’t encounter crowds while giving her plenty of room to run. We’ve gone all-in on ordering groceries online and having no-contact delivery to our apartment. We don’t eat out much, and our budget doesn’t let us do that much as it is, or else we’d certainly be supporting local eateries.

With my wife and I having to work from home for the foreseeable future, and with our daughter attending preschool virtually through the Seesaw app, it’s made for some interesting moments in our apartment. I’ve already had multiple interviews interrupted by a sweet child’s voice — and for those on the phone with me, bear with me if that happens.

While our apartment is large for two parents working from home, it’s not so big that we can easily have privacy. My desk, and my wife’s work space at our dining room table, is in our living room, so I have to hide in a room if I have a longer interview.

It has required all of us adapting to this new normal, even as we don’t know how long that will be.

But from speaking with many of you via email, text, on the phone and a few in person — at least six feet apart, of course — most of us share the same concerns and want to make sure we’re putting our health and well-being first. I saw that especially during the caravans of caring earlier this week — seeing how much this has affected teachers and families, and seeing how much that gesture meant to everyone.

It has also required — and will require — all of us to have more patience with one another as we move forward. There are a lot of changes that have happened already, and will continue to happen, all of which will require more adjustments and alterations to life as we previously knew it.

This new normal isn’t easy to handle, and like you, I have many thoughts that leave me a bit sleepless.

Still, we all have to be there for each other, and for our families, and that starts by taking care of ourselves and doing what we can to ease the worry of another, albeit at a distance.