Every day for the last five years, I fall more and more in love with my husband. Before writing that feeling down, I really dove deep into reflective thought and asked myself, is that really true? It is.
I met my husband while on vacation in Greece. As a Greek-American, vacationing in Greece was just another typical summer. But this particular summer included a confidently handsome Greek man with a striking smile who had the guts to cross a busy Athenian street and ask to take me out to breakfast the next morning. I agreed and the rest is history. Since the beginning of our relationship, our love story is filled with long flights, endless divergent time zone conversations, and sleepless nights before morning airport goodbyes. Stop and Repeat. We finally brought our lives together on the same side of the world when we lived in Greece for two years. We then moved to Israel where my husband took up a Diplomatic mission in Jerusalem. Moving to a new country is rough to say the least. Let alone to one with so many different religions and cultures living in an ever simmering but not quite boiling socio-political dynamic. Nonetheless, our relationship constantly destroyed any obstacle it faced and this one turned out to be just another notch on our belts.
My remote job of three years came to a sudden end with a shining new opportunity Stateside with a top U.S. Financial Institution. The opportunity was too good to pass up and with the support of my husband we entered into our (I lost count at this point) maybe fifth round of living apart. We had a plan in place to of course reunite for good until March 2020 brought COVID-19 to our front doors and in our faces where we could no longer deny the impact it would have on our lives.
Once I got the news that Trump was banning European travel, I knew that this was the beginning of what would be another challenging hurdle for us. Not only because of the restrictions put upon us, but mostly because of the mature decisions we needed to make to put restrictions on ourselves. Could I still travel? Sure. Could he? Yes. But should we? That was a much more difficult question to answer.
During this time, my husband had already flown to Greece and was with his parents making sure they were okay. I was in Pennsylvania doing the same for my family. Although ‘us’ as a family was apart, we looked at each other (thank the gods for face-time) and knew what we needed to do. Our conversations during this time were not word heavy but we understood each other more than ever. Our love in these last several weeks has shown itself more than a trillion words ever could express. We would not risk our health and in turn, the health of our families during a global pandemic to reunite.
Coming to this realization did two things to me simultaneously. It made me feel emotionally stronger in doing the right thing but it crushed me to pieces knowing that I really had no idea when I would be able to see my husband again. I was scared because this time it was different. The previous times we decided to separate were nothing short of choice. We sacrificed and lived apart so that we could have a more successful future. This was a mixed bag of a forceful choice to try and safeguard our health and our families. But with each day that passed, it started to feel different too. Although the pain of missing my husband was always there, I started developing an ever growing feeling of bravery in my, shall I say heart? I’m not quite sure where you store bravery but I know it was growing inside me somewhere at an exponential rate.
What we are living is scary and uncertain, but this bravery made me rise out of bed every morning refusing to be crippled with fear and paralyzing anxiety and brainlessly strolling through the news reading every single piece of information that was being fed to me. Why did I not need to do that anymore? Because I got it. I understood that we are at war. Just as the generations before us, we are living through a war. Of course it is different in so many ways from the wars we are used to learning about in high school and college; one important difference being that we cannot see the enemy. Nonetheless, we must still fight it. I understood that this was not about what COVID-19 was doing to my life with my husband or my dreams of us being together, but what it is doing to the entire world. And I, little old me, actually have a role to play and I will darn well play it as selflessly as I can. I have my grandmother to thank for this as I hear her voice telling me how she remembers the way the Wehrmacht’s leather boots wrinkled at the ankles and tracked an inch of mud into their home while they searched for weapons in any excuse to execute her father and any other man in their village during WWII. I don’t know a lot of things but I know that sacrificing a couple of months away from my husband and self-quarantining are two things I would much rather do than live through the terror of WWII.
Queue our generation; the young, the strong, the resilient. We have an opportunity, maybe once in a lifetime, to actually change the course of history. This – I can tell you from reading my own share of history books while trying not to fall asleep in my 3:00 PM history class at Temple University – does not happen every day. We must play our role in stopping COVID-19 and stay home. We must take care of ourselves while taking care of our families and the elderly in our communities. Instant gratification runs in our blood but we must, for just a short time, go against our nature and sacrifice our plans, our travels, our parties, our gatherings, and our endless outings for a temporary period of time to help save others, many who are older and who, in their own younger years, sacrificed too so that we can thrive today. I am doing it with my husband every day and I know exactly why I am doing it. And you know what? It feels better than it hurts to be apart.