I had the subject of taxes on my mind a month ago or so, but not in financial terms so much as from the side of emotional debt and emotional credits. Given my age of just around the corner from my 95th birthday, I wanted to feel that I had no debts before my life would be over.
I want to leave a comfortable balance sheet and so I wanted to see how I was doing in terms of having straightened out my accounts, have nothing outstanding, have enough in the emotional bank I carry around with me to give me a margin of comfort, assuring me I could spend what was left of my life with a clear conscience.
Hoping to assess my intimate relationships and feel I had no important, but also no minimal, debts.
Well, all that is of course not really where we all are these days. In the first place, the federal income tax has been given a period of grace. The government is not going to bother you during this quarantine we are in the midst of. There is a period of grace which, instead of haunting us with payments due, is offering us isolation, social distancing, loneliness.
We now fear all contact, we segregate ourselves intentionally and we are given endless time to focus on our selves. Time is what we are given. Time to think, to feel, to be alone and also to be afraid.
This column is about change, not about the virus. Change at our age. My life has drastically changed and with it, my awareness of my life has equally and drastically changed.
In the segregated life of an old age home, you are already segregated but you do have the freedom to manage your own days and routines. You are free to see whom you wish, family and friends, you can come and go to theatre, movies, bookshops, grocery stores: none of these are questioned. You plan and you decide.
Your account feels balanced but I had over drawn.
Harold and I have been married for some sixty plus years and it took the virus to show me how much I needed him. He is seriously demented. He can no longer walk. It is difficult for him to speak but when I come to see him, I know he loves me. He shows it with every gesture.
We live in two different parts of the building and I visit him daily for some four hours. It took the virus to show me that what I thought was generosity on my part is actually more important for me than it is for him.
He has learned how alone he is. I just found out.
Renée Levine is 94 and on lock down at the Crossings, the senior community she lives in. She has offered to write letters about her thoughts and the reality of this experience. If you have a message you would like to send her, please either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below and I’ll be sure she receives it.