Pandemic Letters

In February 2020, news out of China about a novel coronavirus was making me anxious. Generally, I don’t get worked up about diseases. SARS and Monkey Pox worried me very little, but this felt different. I stocked up on shelf-stable foods and bought extra butter for the freezer. Then COVID hit New York in March followed quickly by the first Ohio cases and I almost told the husband he couldn’t go to a Blue Oyster Cult concert that he and a few friends were invited to by a member of the band (don’t get too excited, how they were invited was the nerdiest of reasons–Richie Castellano, a current band member, plays a game called Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator. Darrin and his friends, who write game/adventure scripts for the computer game, had taught Richie how to write his own scripts).

March 12th, 2020 school closed for “three weeks” (which turned out to be longer). I thought, aside from the kid being home, not much would change for us. I had been working exclusively at home for years. My husband had been working at home four days a week for nearly as long. And, truthfully, not much did change. The husband worked from home. The kid worked on bridging assignments I gave him. I wrote.. well no, I didn’t. I had friends who were getting epic amounts of writing done and I was getting almost nothing on the page. Except for, what I remembered as, a long series of posts making fun of the easy time I was having in the pandemic.

I just looked up that “long series” and found it was three Facebook posts spanning just under a month. Three of my most popular posts, but only three. Memory has a funny way of making small things big and big things small. I barely remember the endless hours of Animal Crossing I played while listening to NPR for the latest news. I vividly remember every fight my husband and I had over the two years before the vaccine. I’m still anxious about each time I found the shelves bare in the grocery store (I still keep a LOT of toilet paper and ramen noodles in the house). I knew I wasn’t finishing short stories or working on my novels, but part of my brain told me it was ok because I wrote funny posts and a few really well-thought-out blog posts (I’ve done three blog posts in three years and one of those was a copy and paste of something the husband wrote). For the most part, though, each day has burled into another, even now that we are no longer locked down.

So, here it is, collected for you, my pandemic opus:

March 16th, 2020

My Dearest Loraine,

We endure during this time of plague. Each letter you write raises our spirits. We endeavor to keep each other entertained, often reading your missives aloud to each other as there are no live sports on television to raise our spirits. Even late-night television has abandoned us.

The kind and wonderful Mrs. Miles, Mr. Miles, and their charming daughter brought supplies of Girl Scout Cookies these 5 days past, saving us from sugar withdrawal as our bad-food supplies were running low.

Oh, Loraine, I do not know how to tell you this, but that cookie supply is nearly gone. By the end of today we will be down to one box. Pray for us, my dearest.

Yours, forever,

N. Bright

March 27th, 2020

My Dearest Loraine,

‪The last of our stored chicken broth has been used. We are reduced to using Better Than Bullion and… Dare I write this? Bullion, cubed and granulated. I’m sorry to admit to having fallen so low.‬

‪Our cookie supplies were used up this past Monday but a stray box of brownie mix held us over a day or two beyond. Flour, butter and sugar stores are solid thanks to my careful planning in February. We will be reduced to basic shortbread cookies but we shall not suffer too greatly. I can only pray our forced confinement does not outlast the bread flour as I just began a jar of sourdough starter.‬

‪Your Zooms have been a great comfort to us. We wait with anticipation for your Hangout and Skype requests. ‬

‪I console myself in knowing this plague cannot last forever but until we are free to embrace again, there are cat and dog pictures on the internet to bring me joy.‬

‪Stay safe, my love. ‬

‪N. Bright‬

April 6th, 2020

Dearest Loraine,

I trust this letter finds you safe with your hands well cleansed but yet unchapped from the harsh soaps we must depend on.

The bread flour, my darling, has been running low. I have searched the mercantile sites of well-to-do stores and the lowly mass market stores and found the shelves bare. I even was lowered to beseeching Amazon with no flour to show for the degradation. The new bread makers, who have hoarded our nation’s supplies, will be the end of us. I believe I have two or three loaves left in my stores before I shall be forced to use all-purpose flour. I do not look forward to the horrors of flatter, denser loaves.

Recently I found myself in low spirits, perhaps because of the cookie shortage. The last bouquet of flowers had long since died and we were unable to visit with the Trader named Joe to buy more (assuming he had any, there is so much scarcity in this time of turmoil). In a moment of despair, I stepped out my door, ready to throw myself into the hands of our Lord, when the most amazing miracle occurred. There, exploding from the ground, in long beds around my house were flowers!

I admit to greedily picking them. In this time of uncertainty and deprivation, I find that the good Lord has provided me with an endless supply of flowers to brighten my rooms. I hope you, also, have found some hope in your days.

Your darling friend,


Yellow daphadills in a blue green glass vase on a dinning room table with school supplies and books in the background.