As the entire world hunkers down to ride out this unimaginable pandemic, it’s natural to look at your relationship and think, Are we like Tom and Rita?
As in, are we loving? Patient? Supportive? Not just of one another, but of everyone on the planet?
As of course you know, Tom and Rita tested positive for Covid-19 and are in isolation, lest they spread the virus to anyone else. It’s been a couple of weeks since Tom made the announcement, and apparently they’re not bickering, getting on one another’s nerves, and ready to throttle one another. Instead, they’re playing Gin Rummy and posting adorable pictures of themselves in matching baseball caps. (And latest news is that they’re feeling better, which gives all of us hope.)
But my boyfriend and I? We are not Tom and Rita.
Scared and Cooped Up
We kind of were, for the first few days. I’m separated, and we don’t live together. So our relationship has subsisted on supportive phone calls and watching Love Is Blind together via FaceTime. This is all one really needs, and everything was great, considering.
Until we got into the dumbest fight ever. I was upset because my pulmonologist advised me to keep my seven-year-old daughter with her dad for fourteen days because two kids in her class have fevers. (I have horrible asthma, which puts me in a higher risk category.) I was really upset. I trust her dad; I just want her here, with me.
My boyfriend tried to be consoling. I was too upset to be consoled. He got frustrated. I got frustrated. Next thing we know we’re arguing about whether he said the right thing, whether I said the right thing, how bummed we are that the other person didn’t say the right thing.
But of course the right thing has nothing to do with any of those things.
The right thing is to bring calm and compassion into one another’s lives.
The right thing is to not sweat the small stuff.
The right thing is to get out of your head, and spend time figuring out how you can help others who are in much worse shape than you are.
The right thing is to be like Tom and Rita.
Fortunately for my sanity, my boyfriend and I realized this pretty fast. Not as fast as either of us would like, but fast enough. Because none of us can do this alone. It’s too scary, and way too real.
Tom says there is no crying in baseball. I always loved that line in A League of Their Own, and for the most part I think it’s true. But sometimes you just want to stand in the outfield, and you want to cry your eyes out, with a boyfriend – or a husband, or a wife, or a friend – somewhere near, but not too near.