Story Submitted by Janice Nepon-Sixt

I was seven and a half months pregnant…I spent the night searching out the window, and finally crying myself to sleep. It was New Year’s Eve. And, my husband had stood me up. It was pretty much down from there. After our son was born, I begged him to do counseling with me, but he refused. Well…I refused to settle for anything less than the intimate partnership I so longed for- so believed in. I had left my first marriage with my childhood sweetheart when the reality turned out to be brutal, and now I realized with despair that my dreams would never be realized in this second marriage. And so I got divorced AGAIN. And, it was ROUGH- That New Year’s Eve found me in a shouting match with my soon to be ex-husband. This was so far from the happy marriage of my parents. Once prone on the bedroom floor I asked myself, well Janice are you going to kill yourself?…NO…then get up- do the first thing. And so I did. I moved forward, and the year passed with me as my son’s primary caregiver. I still yearned for romance. I was now thirty years old. And, it was New Year’s Eve again! This year, I was one of those people you hear about DETERMINED to have a good time on NY’s Eve. So, I went to not one, not two, but THREE NY’s Eve parties. And at the third one, as the song “Some Enchanted Evening” says, I saw a stranger (sing) across a crowded room. He was tall with long, sandy hair… a mustache. He had on a white-collar shirt and a black vest. And, like the song says, I flew to his side. Well, in this case, I joined ALL the women, lining up to give HIM a NY’s Eve kiss! When it was my turn I said, “Couldn’t I have one of those?” Well, turns out, he had noticed me too. He saw me talking earlier to a mutual male friend and thought I was with him. At the time, I had short salt and pepper hair. I was wearing a white pants suit with a navy blue turtleneck; everyone else was wearing jeans, including him. He happily obliged with a sweet kiss. Well, that was 31 years ago this New Year’s Eve. And, that was JERRY. And, we have been married for over 28 years. In that time, we have faced some of the biggest stressors people CAN face: We’ve raised two sons, with all the inherent ups and downs; we moved cross country without jobs, we’ve dealt with financial difficulties; drug addiction; death. But, we have a passionate, connected, intimate, fun relationship. Last year, Jerry converted to Judaism. In August, on our 28th anniversary, we had our Jewish wedding with a full ceremony, dinner dance, and even a family show. And on this New Year’s Eve, Jerry and I will celebrate again, not only the beginning of the New Year, but the anniversary of the beginning of our wonderful life together.

Story by Loretta Beckmann

I met Paul fifty years ago at a party playing “Twister” with friends from high school. I was immediately attracted to his blonde hair, blue eyes, and boisterous laugh. It was pretty much love at first sight. We were together in high school, got married soon afterward, and eventually had our son Charlie. Our family of three lived in a safe, comfortable suburb of St. Louis, MO, and we continued to have a mostly harmonious relationship built on common interests, with family at the center. Our careers were also a pivotal part of our lives. Paul worked for 24 years as the Director of Maintenance for a local college and I was an early childhood teacher. We loved to travel to our lake house, visit the beaches of Florida, and spend time with loved ones.

Then our world changed. Paul was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease. This devastating news was NOT in our long-range plans! His disease rendered him impulsive, imbalanced and a fall risk, and he needed continuous surveillance. He was forced to take early retirement and I choose to take a permanent leave from the teaching job I loved to become a full-time caregiver. There are limited resources available for caregivers of persons with debilitating ongoing non-life threatening diseases; therefore they learn to live a life of isolation in a small world. Paul and I had been a very social couple, but now we were almost exclusively living a life of isolation.

In March of this year, Covid19 became a reality for everyone. Their worlds became smaller; more isolating. Ironically, however, my small world has gotten larger! People who are now living in my small world of isolation have become imaginative. Covid19 opened up a world of resources when other people, stuck in their homes began to reach out through technology. Since the Shelter-in-Place order, I have been asked to join in several sessions using Zoom, Google Hangout, and other types of communication. I was social again with family members, caregivers, work associates, and girlfriends.

I realize in the past I was often oblivious to the needs of others, but sometimes out of tragedy, a new realization comes to us. So while I have compassion for all of those suffering from all the ramifications of this terrible pandemic, I also feel it may bring a new understanding of the hardships that people have with the isolation of chronic illness and their caregivers. As we return to our normal routines and resume our lives I am hopeful people will have a greater understanding for the isolation Paul and I are experiencing, but more importantly act on the need to be there for their relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances who may welcome a phone call or message to break-up the day.

Video Submitted by Kim Linton

Local business owners are coming together to provide “community kits” to families who need help as a result of the pandemic. We intend to help over 7,500 families in the Tampa Bay Area. Kits will include activities for kids, non-perishable foods, and health & wellness products. So far we’ve partnered with several local businesses (Psalms Brittle Co, Seventh Avenue Apothecary, Tampa Printer, MADE, and more). We’re still looking for product donations as well as donations.

Story Submitted by Suzanne Austin-Hill

A Double Layer Heart-made Cake In our house, my husband is the King of the Kitchen and I am the Royal Taste-tester. On May 1st at the end of our seventh week of isolation (three weeks in Haymarket, VA and the remainder to date here at home in Ruskin, FL), he decided to make a cake from scratch! “NOT a box cake!” as is sometimes said at a church function. The photo shows the beautiful and delicious result – a Vanilla Cream cake with Butter Cream frosting. But, in addition to the blessing of being married to someone loves to cook and clean-up, is the fact that every ingredient for the cake and frosting was purchased for us by our next-door neighbors who have shopped for us every week since our return home.

Video Submitted by Emma Lodgrigue

Hi, I’m Emma I’m 11 and live in Louisiana. I submitted a video in Quarantine Karaoke and someone from this page asked me to submit my video. It’s a parody of Never Enough from The Greatest Showman that I titled “I’ve Had Enough.”

Video Submitted by Katie Welch

I know times can be tough right now. But what I’ve been doing is continuing writing my stories. The good thing about this virus is that I have some time to focus on my writing. Another thing is that I have been creating ideas for new YouTube videos. Like the current one, I’m getting a lot of videos together of other people singing the song Tomorrow from Annie with me.

Story Submitted by Lori Smith

Five Sentence story on what it’s like to Shelter-in-place in a Pandemic

  1. I watch the news and see the death numbers rise and the curve ascending.
  2. These four walls entomb me with my idleness.
  3. It’s a waiting game in this prison of laundry, cooking and cleaning, frayed nerves, and to-do list that lies in wait.
  4. I burst outside to walk up the street and hear the birds sing, see the lizards pretending to not be there as I glide by, see the Live Oak leaves sway and feel the mosquitoes bite.
  5. I turn into my garden where bees are pollinating, a pair of cardinals tussle, butterflies flutter through, and the fountain’s trickle soothes and all is well with the world.