Bubble, Bubble, COVID Trouble

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). (CDC Photo/Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAMS)

I miss my bubble. All summer, my family enjoyed the comfort and safety of our bubble. We created it with two other families who shared our level of concern for the coronavirus. We all agreed not to be around people who were not in our bubble, and report to each other if we think that one of our family members might have been exposed.

Life inside our bubble over the summer months was lifesaving. The seven children loved being together. They were blissfully happy to tackle each other in the lake and cool off with a snack in the shade. All of the parents were well-informed about the virus and politics which allowed us to have thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations. The splashing and joking around comforted the kids, and the conversation and consolation eased the parents. For a summer without camp, we all agreed that we were blessed to be healthy, have jobs, homes, and the privilege to still give our kids some fun and friendship.

Then the bubble burst. My children were about to go to school in person, and the rest were virtual. Some by choice, some were not given an in-person option, but would’ve chosen virtual learning anyway. Without any judgment but with a great amount of sadness, we knew we had to leave our bubble. The other two families could remain, but with the amount of exposure we were about to take on, we had to exit the bubble.

Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny of Temple Israel, West Bloomfield, Michigan, joins JewishSacredAging.com as a contributor

Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny of Temple Israel, West Bloomfield, Michigan, joins Jewish Sacred Aging as a contributor

It felt, and still feels like a great loss. But we still had each other. We were not alone, we had each other. Our house could still be a place to play, eat, learn and rest. We were still lucky. Incredibly lucky.

Since COVID began in March, I have officiated at many funerals where a spouse or child left behind were bubble-less. They lived alone in a house full of memories and a closet full of clothes no one will ever wear again. Though families broke all the rules at the graveside; hugging, holding hands, holding each other up, someone always went home alone. They didn’t have anyone to eat with or share thoughtful conversations. They were a bubble of one.

Recently I read an article that talked about creating bereavement bubbles. Basically, pairing singles who are bereaved and alone, with other singles in the same situation, and having them create their own bubble of two. This way, they could enter each other’s homes, share meals face to face, and assuage some of the vast loneliness that grief causes, and COVID exponentially multiplies.

This thought never occurred to me. If both quarantine and take the disease seriously as we all should, a bereavement bubble might just be the cocoon that people need right now. We are only realizing now the true value of hugging. The grounding feeling that a shared meal provides is invaluable. The human need to be in contact with other human beings, even it is only one other person.

If we can’t be in a minyan of 10, I support creating bubbles of 2. It is still not what we are used to, what we may want, or what we feel we need. But for any of us who have felt alone, or lonely, or needing human connection when distance is what defines the current times, 2 sounds far better than 1.

Until we can be together again, to mourn and to celebrate, let’s try to make sure that no one is alone. Let’s use our networks to make a different kind of shidduch, matchmaking. It might be just as important as the traditional kind.

About Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny
Rabbi Kaluzny has served Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan, since her ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004. She is a proud Wolverine, having earned a degree in Judaic Studies from the University of Michigan in 1999. Rabbi Kaluzny feels lucky to be back at her home congregation. She was in the first nursery school class at Temple Israel, celebrated consecration here, became a bat mitzvah, participated in confirmation, and graduated from Temple Israel. On that same bimah, she married Ryan Kaluzny in 2007. In March of 2010, they welcomed their beautiful daughter Bayla Shy into their family. In 2012, Ryan, Jennifer, and Bayla welcomed twins into their family; Sage Ray z’l, and Asher Wolf. Ryan and Jen are unabashedly proud of their incredible, amazing, adorable children.

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