Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Laura Friedman with her grandson, Julian, when he was an infant. Julian is now 2 years old and lives in Virginia; Friedman is unable to visit him during the virus outbreak. Photo courtesy of Laura Friedman

“In an odd way, I was prepared,” Laura Friedman says of how the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted daily routines.

Friedman, 64, grew up in a military family. Her father was career Army (a Vietnam War veteran), and that meant moving. A lot. She and her husband, Paul Friedman, have called Maine home since 1982, living at their home in the rural west side of Cumberland for 16 years. “It’s the best home ever,” Friedman said.

And she’s had plenty to compare.

“I was born in Japan. Then there was Texas. Then Ethiopia and New Jersey. New York, Kansas and then Arizona. Panama and then Colorado and Kansas again. Finally, we moved to Virginia. I was fifteen. A second house in Virginia at sixteen. It was in this house – my last year of high school – that I met my husband. I was a grown up. Sixteen houses.

“Almost every year my familiar, my patterns, my places and those things and people I attached to and loved were yanked from me in a day. The tomorrow changed radically. I had no say. No control. We would find our new house. We would welcome our belongings and set up our new, temporary home, and eventually, we would establish new friends, new routines and patterns. Involuntary adaptations necessary for survival.


“The hardest year, by far, was Colorado. A juxtaposition. Colorado Springs was beautiful. A picture window in the house faced west, perfectly framing Pikes Peak. My father got us settled and left for Vietnam. There was a war to fight – an enemy to crush. Soldiers had a duty. Chin up little plebes. Salute.

“We didn’t know if we would see him again.

“We had the news to watch every day. The TV was on, always. I could physically see images of an enemy. This definition gave me some comfort – helped me identify my fear. Woven in and around the fear, there were lives to live. We ate and drank and slept and did the things we had to do. My oldest sister, once simply aggressive, became violent and abusive. My mother did not fare well. None of us did, really. My father returned before his tour in Vietnam was scheduled to end.

“This coronavirus thing feels like wartime. There is an enemy. The accidentally drafted show up on the front lines every day. People hurt. People are isolated. I cannot touch my children or my grandchildren. Like a good soldier, I wait.

“These last few days I feel the overwhelming uncertainty retreating. As this new kind of enemy takes shape, the unknown is becoming known – familiar. I eat. I drink. I walk. I try to find ways to keep busy. I am adapting. In and among all the feelings, I hope others are finding ways to cope. I hope there is as little pain as possible. I try to emit hang-in-there blessings without reducing to cliché. This is so very hard.

“Odds are that most of us will come through this. Our lives will slowly morph into new routines, new patterns, new understanding.

“Change is inevitable. I get this. I truly believe that some of what changes will prove positive. Maybe even necessary.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at virus@pressherald.com

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