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Toasting the End

Self-isolation isn't unusual for this blind woman, but she is anxious to be with others again

By Mary Hiland

The gurgle of most of a bottle of margarita mix as I poured it down the drain might have caused extreme remorse for those who love a cocktail before dinner. But for me, it meant a wave of sadness, but not because of the waste of a perfectly good adult beverage.

It was the realization that my plans for having it on hand for unexpected company were just a pipe dream. There would be no company, expected or not.

Abstract illustration, Telling Our Stories, Toasting the End
Credit: John Gilman

From the moment I heard that COVID-19 had invaded the world, I made the decision to keep myself and my friends and family as safe as possible. If that meant self-isolation, then that's the way life would be for the duration.

Although I am totally blind, I don't mind living alone. As an only child, I spent many hours entertaining myself, alone. I had friends in the neighborhood and at school, but if they were not available to play from time to time, I found plenty of ways to occupy myself in the afternoons until my working parents returned.

Life as a single blind woman who lives alone prepared me well for social distancing.

As a pre-teen, I spent my share of hours on the phone and in front of "The Mickey Mouse Club," alone. As a teen, I studied dance with the fervor of a prima ballerina and would spend hours in our basement studio, practicing for a dream career in dance, alone.

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Later, as a wife and mother of a son and daughter, I felt fulfilled with my busy household. Yet, after each child left for independence, and my husband and I dissolved our marriage, I found myself alone again, but not unhappy.

Then, enter the pandemic. Self-imposed isolation came naturally. Previously, except for an occasional lunch out, a meeting, doctors' appointments or church, my days had been spent alone with only the company of my guide dog.

Life as a single blind woman who lives alone prepared me well for social distancing. Now my days are filled with correspondence via email, listening to talking books, meetings via Zoom and cleaning out closets.

I am blessed to have a friend who takes us to a park once a week to hike through woods, to break the monotony of solitude and just walking around the neighborhood.

Even keeping our distance and wearing masks, having a flesh and blood person to be with, rather than a voice on a screen, is a treat. I pray that someday soon, I'll buy another bottle of something fun, and we'll celebrate by ripping off our masks and enjoying it together.

Telling Our Stories contributor Mary Hiland
Mary Hiland, 75, of Columbus, Ohio, is totally blind and lives alone with her Seeing Eye Dog, Dora (pictured in the photo with her). Mary is the mother of two and a grandmother of five. She writes a blog called Seeing It My Way. Mary says that writing this story made her realize why “social distancing and sheltering in place has not necessarily been a hardship” for her. “I hope it helps those who are experiencing sadness or depression because of having to shelter in place," she adds.
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