Yesterday Jon started calling me Guv, short for governor, like in the British Mysteries. Today he wrote on his blog how he was now listening to me when I tell him what I think he should do to protect himself from the coronavirus.
I thought if I’m the Guv than he’s the DI who breaks all the rules but never gets thrown off the force because he always gets the bad guy.
Jon has told me that he listens to me and what I think when it comes to the things that he’s doing, but I never really saw that.
Or maybe he does listen, but that doesn’t mean he does what I tell him.
The first time I went with him to RISSE, the refugee center in Albany where he wanted to volunteer, and met with the director I could tell she wanted nothing to do with us. If it were up to me I would have left and never gone back.
But Jon kept at it. And although the relationship with them didn’t ultimately work out, he did a lot of good for a while, raising money and filling Wish Lists with the Army of Good.
And eventually, his work at RISSE lead him to Bishop Maginn High School and helping the students there.
Where I’m more cautious, Jon is determined and at times ruthless. He’s not afraid to make mistakes and piss people off to do what he believes is the right thing.
I’ve seen how this works for him, and I am learning not to let my fear of getting hurt or even sometimes knowing I might hurt someone else, stop me from doing what I believe in.
But it’s different now that the coronavirus is a part of our lives.
The first thing I thought to do when this all began was to volunteer at the Cambridge Co-op. It’s the type of work that would give me something meaningful to do, that I’m good at, as well as being able to keep in touch with my community in a very direct way.
But I knew I couldn’t risk getting the virus and bringing it home to Jon who is over 70 and has heart disease and diabetes, just because it would make me feel better.
Last week when Jon was going to Jean’s Diner every day to support them, I saw it as the same kind of thing. I knew not being able to go to Bishop Maginn and the Mansion was hard for Jon. He can sit at his desk for hours writing, but getting out of the house, taking pictures and talking to the people who he is helping is an important part of his work.
At one point I joked with Sue Silverstein who he works with at Bishop Maginn about chaining Jon to his desk (which she approved of). “You can do all the good work from your desk, I told him “and not risk your life or anyone else’s”.
I don’t want to be telling Jon what to do.
I don’t want to be nagging him to wash his hands. I don’t want to stop him from going to Jean’s Diner every day because, for him, it’s not just about getting lunch, it’s a part of his work.
And I really don’t want to interfere with his work.
But if Jon gets this virus, there is a very real and strong possibility that he could die. And as much as he and I talk about dying, his and mine, and how we would deal with it, the thought of him dying alone in a hospital without being able to see him, if it could have been prevented by some simple actions we can take, is very different.
So it’s been a balance for me.
I tell him how I feel, careful to make what saying sound as rational as it really is without too much emotion. I try not to be so annoying that I just appear neurotic and easy to ignore.
And although Jon has started calling me Guv (which I have to say I kinda love) and said that he was listening to me I didn’t really believe it. I thought it was more about what Andrew Cuomo (a real Governor) and Dr Anthony Fauci were saying.
And he was listening to them, but he told me that he decided to Shelter in Place because when I asked him to, he knew it was coming from a place of love.
And that as much as he says he doesn’t feel that he will die from the virus, he doesn’t want to risk our lives together just because it makes him feel good to get out and take a picture at Jean’s Diner or shop at the Co-op.
So he stopped going out except to walk Zinnia and drive me to the places I need to go to.
Jon, like me, has a hard time trusting people. He learned early in life that trusting people was dangerous. But listening to someone, especially when you don’t necessarily believe them, is all about trust.
It’s not about control or one person know better than the other. Because still there’s so much we don’t know about the coronavirus. It’s about doing what we can for each other at this time when there’s potentially so much at risk.
It’s about listening, loving and trusting, even if what we believe turns out to be wrong.