The new normal: no hugs allowed

Courtesy photo. Deborah Theodor, a cancer survivor, adopted Clifford because he is 11 years old and has cancer. She wants to give him a great rest of his life. 

In less than a week, I went from being able to hug everyone to being warned not to hug at all. I know it’s for everyone’s own good, our community’s health and country, but I have to tell you it’s pretty hard to go cold turkey.

Suddenly my love of the word hug has been replaced with the word “social distancing.” I heard the phrase used off in the distance in the Town Hall and I had to ask the wonderful Beth Hamilton, our assistant assessor, to tell me what it was all about.

On a side note, Beth and I share a love of my mom’s homeland — Newfoundland, Canada. So far, they do not have any confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, but they do suspect one. Beth and I agree that Newfoundlanders are among the nicest most caring people you can meet. I bet they are all sharing what they have, including toilet paper.

Newfoundland would make a great story to share with you, too. My memory is of wild horses running down the dirt roads along the ocean in front of my grandma’s house, my grandpa’s small dory fishing boat, too. Beth’s is of the wonderful people and friends she has met in the St. John’s area throughout the years. We both agree there is no place like it in the world.

More to come about NFLD after this pandemic passes. I can’t believe I’m even typing that word.

Back to Beth explaining to me what social distancing is all about. Basically, it means being very aware of the suggested 6 feet and a minimum of 3 feet of distance that we should try to keep between all of us. They believe this space will help us prevent the spread of germs from sneezing, coughing and even blowing our noses that cause this virus to thrive and spread from one person to another.

Then we must also do our best not to touch our own eyes, nose and mouth. Staying out of large groups, washing our hands, and using hand sanitizer constantly are also part of it.

Social distancing, dear goodness, it even sounds harsh. I wonder who came up with it? Well’s let’s check it out and see:

I was surprised to learn — albeit from Wikipedia — that the earliest reference came from the Leper Plague back in the 17th century B.C.  In the Book of Leviticus, which I had never heard of before, it is noted. The poor people that were stricken with leprosy were shunned to dwell alone. Later they developed colonies where they could be kept together, because people were so fearful of the spread.

Today it means we must practice other things like “elbow bumps." Not fist bumps — elbow ones. I have to say at the beginning of last week it seemed so weird and now I guess like anything else it seems like a pretty natural jester. No hugs, just elbow bumps. I worry that our love of hugging will not come back.

“Self-shielding” is another big part of this. I remember a Sylvester Stallone movie from the early 90’s call "Demolition Man" where this "no touching" policy was just part of life in the year 2036. That is not so far off now. At the time, it seemed so futurist and unrealistic, yet here we are.

Have you heard of Dracula sneezing? We are encouraged to swipe our arm or cape as in Dracula times, and drop our head before sneezing into our bent elbow area.

Social distancing should help us to prevent the spread of this disease, yet we all have to remember the other consequences that come along with it. Loneliness and depression are two of the very sad results. It’s not those of us who have our families. Think of the seniors who live alone and may have no one around to check on them or to care. We also have many veterans in New Hampshire who are alone.

Think about each house on your street, look at your Facebook list, and check-in with those around you, or those you have not heard from in a while. We all need some one to let us know they care and that they are not alone.

Our pets can be such a blessing, too. If you have a pet and are alone, you are blessed. I can’t thank all of you enough for the loving emails and calls about Ellie last week too. Renee McAllister even wrote, "You have to include more pictures and pets in your stories!" That meant the world to me.

I do have another beautiful pet story to share with you. You may have been wondering about his story when you saw Clifford’s picture above. Deborah Theodor took the time to call me and share her story of her little love “Clifford” with us. Deborah adopted Clifford because he is 11 years old and has cancer. When his owner learned that he was sick, they decided to put him out on the street, because they didn’t want the hassle and cost of caring for a dying dog. Clifford is a 13- pound mixed breed who is very fluffy.

Deborah shared with us that she is a cancer survivor herself. When she learned of Clifford’s story, she decided that Clifford would have a beautiful comfortable last few months or years of his life because of her. She was honored to take Clifford in. I’d say Clifford is one lucky puppy, but I know Deborah would say she’s the blessed one.

Renee also wrote that she is a cat person, but I think all animals make her smile. Pets have a way of calming us down and making us forget our troubles. Also, they love us unconditionally. I will never forget Jimmy Stewart's poem he wrote in honor of his golden retriever “Beau” in the early 80s.

Boy, I feel like I’m jumping around on us today, but I think that’s how we all feel with this new social distancing that has been forced on us as our new normal. The only good takeaway from all of this is that even if we can’t touch for now, we can never forget that no matter what, we are all in this together. We are not alone, we are one.

John keeps saying, “we have to Hunker Down,” which I think means the same thing as social distancing. Hunkering down to me makes me picture one huge hug or gigantic umbrella to protect all of us in our community that we love.

If you read this and need anything from toilet paper to food, please let me know and we will find away to get it to you. You have my cell — (603) 512-5596. John’s cell is (603) 289-2011.

You are not alone. We are all in this together. I am sending you a Sherry hug with love.

Sherry Farrell is Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.

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