Managing through the pandemic

We are still in Japan, living day-to-day through this surreal time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sakura trees still bloomed this year…but the usual festivals and celebrations were cancelled…

We’ve watched as this horrible virus has spread across the world. First affecting hardest my colleagues in China and Korea. Then spreading to Europe, the United States, and beyond.

We faced the decision of whether to try leaving Japan months before our plan, spending 13 hours on a potentially contaminated airplane, followed by hours in US immigration, and entering into an explosive escalation of virus in our US home. Or, stay in Tokyo…where the infection is spreading, but at a slower and so far more moderate rate than most other places.

The risk of staying in Tokyo, of course, is there is no real certainty of when we might be able to go back to the US. We’re a long, long way from our family and most of our friends. And if we were to become ill here, we would have access to a medical system that predominantly speaks a language in which we are not fluent, with little support system outside of those at my workplace.

After some stressful thought and consultation with my company, we have decided to stay in Tokyo. We still hope to return to the US, as planned, at the end of May. In this crazy time, it is impossible to predict if that will happen. My company has been very understanding, and is willing to extend my time in Japan beyond May if that will help us safely transition back. That support is very reassuring.

And so, we are dealing with this much as everyone else we know. Working from home…social distancing, with very limited time outside…and worrying about family and friends who now seem so much farther away.

Before the pandemic, we had looked forward to the many things we would do in our last months in Japan, and were quite sad about the prospect of leaving. Now, we still love our adopted country, but appreciate much more the home we’ve been away from for 4-1/2 years.

Like everyone, we look forward to a time when things are better. I hesitate to say a time when we return to normal, for I think we will find a new normal that won’t ever be the same as before.

We hope we will find much good in that new normal, and that we better appreciate the frailty of the life we have.