William Ramshaw resides in the expansive Pacific Northwest. He is a six-year survivor of pancreatic cancer and has written a memoir Gut Punched! Facing Pancreatic Cancer.
As quarantine and social distancing wears on, one cancer survivor muses on the little things that have gone missing.
Like hundreds of millions, I’m hunkered down waiting for this COVID-19 thing to be over. Beyond the looming terror of getting it, the thing that has troubled me is the countless small things I miss.
I miss sitting down with a good friend at Starbucks. These friends are my go-to people. We all have them. These are the people we can call way past their bedtime and they tell us with emphasis, “No, you didn’t wake me up. What’s up?” They forgive us with grace no matter how surly we may be. No matter what we need, they are there for us and us for them. Truly these best of good friends are not many. A flickering video rendering of them on Facetime or Zoom isn’t as delightful as sitting face-to-face across a table with them while sipping on a double mocha with an extra shot.
I miss chitchatting with my neighbors. Forget six feet, if we talk at all it’s at six paces. I call this unsocial distance. I fear when this thing has blown over, I will have lost my connection with them altogether. In my view, to have good neighbors you need to be a good neighbor. With everyone hunkered down, it’s like they got vaporized.
I miss running errands. Before all this, I ran errands on a whim. I didn’t think twice about zipping into Home Depot to pick up something I needed around the house or sprinting into Costco to grab some lifegiving chocolate muffins. Now, I wait until I can’t wait any longer. At most, I go out once a week mostly to the local supermarket to get some milk and eggs or to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I told someone via email, my yard is going to look spectacular this year.
I miss going out to a nice sit-down steakhouse for dinner. One of those places we all used to go to. One of those places with their folded linen napkins, polished flatware and gleaming glasses without water spots. Like everyone, there are days I want my food to magically appear steaming hot, seasoned and cooked to perfection. Fortunately, a few places still offer takeout. But the challenge for me is getting it home hot. Devouring it sitting in my car with the windows rolled up in the parking lot doesn’t cut it.
I miss salad bars. You know those long bars with dozens of items chopped into bite-sized chunks. Buckets of chilled cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms and olives, grated cheddar cheese, fresh broccoli chunks, bean sprouts, three-bean salad, croutons, bacon bits and sunflower seeds ready to be layered on top of a fresh lettuce or spinach bed. Ready to be covered with a hefty layer of dressing. Blue cheese is my favorite. Prep work aside, it’s hard to match this culinary extravagance at home.
I miss going out to the movies. Yes, I’m a James Bond diehard. It makes no difference who's playing Bond, I just love those things. But watching them at home on a large screen TV even with a nice sound system just isn’t the same as sitting in a darkened theater with its towering screen and mega-Dolby sound system bringing the thundering explosions and whipsaw-fast car chases to life.
I miss getting my haircut. (I can only imagine the distress this whole thing has produced for women.) Desperate, my son-in-law, who has quite a mane, gave himself a buzzcut. I may do the same. Sorry, I’m not a ponytail-guy.
But for now, I’ll quit my whining and continue to hunker down waiting for this COVID-thing to get over. Waiting for things to return to normal or as normal as they will ever be.