As two-year residents of PPH, my husband and I knew at once we had found a place to call home for the rest of our lives. Never would we have imagined that two-years later we would be in isolation here, with many hundreds more of our PPH family.

In our two years here many residents have become very dear to us. Some are in independent living, others in personal care or skilled nursing. We are associates of the Medical Mission Sisters, whose campus is on Pine Road, just about 1 ½ miles away. Quite a few Medical Mission Sisters or other associates live here. Some are in independent living, several are in personal care, others in skilled nursing or in memory care. Quite a few people in independent living have spouses or siblings in higher levels of care.

During these two years here in independent living, we have made it a point to frequent those floors where our friends, who are truly our loved ones, live. PPH adopted social isolation guidelines the day the first Covid-19 case was announced in Philadelphia. Now, very much like loved ones on the outside, we cannot maintain that intimate contact of touch that is so live-giving. That said, I cannot overstate the quality of love and care the staff here is providing.

We have children and grandchildren who cannot visit us here right now. I don’t mind saying that, given the gravity of the current pandemic, we have sensed an element of relief in our family that we are here in this beloved and trusted environment. Likewise, we know that they, as deeply as they care for us, are experiencing the pandemic on many levels of their own lives that don’t involve us. Whenever we have the opportunity here, we remind friends of the heavy lifting our beloved families and dear friends outside of here are doing. If we have siblings, children and grandchildren, our prayer is they are able to find some level of comfort in the knowledge that we, their loved ones, are in the best possible place for them. It is our hope that they can find some peace in knowing that.

As to those who have loved ones in various stages of dementia, we also worry and wonder about our friends in those units. While they may not realize it, nobody around them has visitors either. The staff, for their part, is herculean in its efforts to keep folks comfortable, comforted and yes, entertained. The sad truth is, even with all of this, there is bound to be a void between us and our loved ones that nothing can replace. The only thing worse that I can imagine would be for those folks with memory loss issues to be staying with relatives during this time when social isolation is crucial to our individual and national health. While it’s true they may not understand why they are so alone right now, neither would they understand the severe restrictions those on the outside are enduring while trying to manage aging loved ones.

Sometimes it is hard for us who are older adults to understand that we are not and cannot be the center of our families’ attention, especially during times of crises. The difference for those of us who live here is that we are the center of everyone’s attention! Every staff member, no matter their job, would drop everything in a moment for one of us who needs care and attention. For me to write that sentence brought tears to my eyes because it is so powerfully true.

Having endured a great deal of grief and loss, one of the guiding principles of my life is this: This, too, shall pass! That statement is the only absolute that is true for all people in every situation for all time. May God’s love, grace and mercy continue to surround us all as we (metaphorically) take each other’s hand and step into this vast unknown. As to those of us here at PPH, we are among the more fortunate people on the planet. In addition to all the help here, we have you, our precious families on the outside who hold us in love and light every day of our lives. We all pray for a time when we will truly hold one another close with a depth of appreciation we have known before. May God be with us all.