There’s a learning curve when it comes to living in quarantine. You don’t get it right the first try or two. You see, making your house a chemical-free zone is complicated. I was able to do the obvious things like getting rid of all perfumes and detergents, and locking smelly keepsakes in a closed room—but there were other things that I had to learn the hard way. For instance, I learned that the fireplace needed sealed with plastic sheeting after wind blew smoke from burning ditches down the chimney. I learned to block off the kitchen exhaust fan when my neighbors were using a cherry picker and the exhaust from the machine filled the attic and flooded the kitchen. And I learned to seal off my windows with tape and plastic wrap after one horrible night when the house flooded with an unknown noxious smell from outside.
It was late at night when the noxious smell hit, and before I knew what was happening, the whole house was full of the stinky odor. Instantly, I became very ill. My mother and father voluntarily lived a “quarantine-safe” lifestyle so I could be around them, and they rallied to my side that night. While Mom stayed behind to try and clear the smell out of the house, my father took me for a drive to get away from it.
As we took off down the road, I can remember being in incredible pain. Muscle knots were forming all over my body, and it felt like a knife was being driven into my stomach. My heart was beating erratically, and I was having trouble breathing. As my father drove us deep into farming country, I laid back in my seat and concentrated on pulling air into my lungs and pushing it out again. Suddenly, I knew I was going to vomit.
Dad pulled to the side of the road, and I staggered over to a ditch. I can remember standing in the pitch dark getting ready to experience the awful indignity of tossing my cookies, when suddenly something caught my eye. We were on a back country road far away from light pollution, and in the darkness, the stars were burning brightly in the sky. The sight was incredibly beautiful. I can remember watching in awe as a falling star left a burning trail across the midnight sky. At that moment, I realized that my illness, my trials, the fact that I was getting ready to vomit in a ditch—all of it—wasn’t really that big of a deal. In the grand scheme of things, this moment in time—tragic and horrible as it was—would pass. Eventually, it would be forgotten. Time would take the sting away.
At that moment, as I looked up at the stars, I felt peace.
Dad joined me, and together we paced back and forth on that dark, lonely road. He held my hand and helped me walk. The motion began to stretch my knotted muscles and calm my rolling stomach. Dad squeezed my hand and talked to me—I can’t remember about what—but what I do remember is the love in his voice.
As I walked that road with my father, another realization hit me. Not only does pain pass away—but love always remains. I knew that the memory of my muscle knots would fade, but I would always remember the squeeze of Dad’s hand and the sound of his gentle voice—I would always remember how much he cared.
Life is made up of moments—some bad and some good. The thing that I learned on that dark, lonely road is that pain fades, but love remains.
I think that’s beautiful.