The Working Waterfront

Caught by COVID, help in escaping

Accepting favors from friends isn’t easy

Courtney Naliboff
Posted 2022-08-09
Last Modified 2022-08-09

After two years, two months, and some number of days that I’m too tired to count, I finally caught COVID. Or maybe it caught me.

Either way, I’m writing this from bed.

I had identified a ten-day window in my schedule where it would be somewhat less inconvenient to be laid up and quarantining, but although I may be a task-oriented, schedule-driven Taurus, Virgo rising, this virus doesn’t seem to have any such predilictions.

It caught me in a week where I had both a school concert and a school trip to New York scheduled. It also caught me solo parenting, since Bill was on his own school trip to New York. While that made it much easier for me to isolate from him, it made it much harder to isolate from Penrose.

I sent a few emails, alerting basically everyone I knew and had seen in the last 72 hours…

Monday morning, when I tested positive, I had been on my way out the door to play “Taps” for Memorial Day. I was feeling dizzy and generally weird, and I’m very glad I tested rather than blow particulates at a town gathering. That necessitated an immediate pivot from the day—and week—I had planned.

I put on a black KN95 mask, opened all the windows, and set up camp on our bench. I sent a few emails, alerting basically everyone I knew and had seen in the last 72 hours as to my situation, and then drifted off to sleep against the soundtrack of Penrose’s cartoon.

When I eventually woke up, I found an influx of kindness in my emails and DMs. Offers of food, grocery drop-offs, and help getting Penrose home from her afterschool activities. I felt warm and loved reading the notes but assured myself that I would probably be just fine until Bill was back on Wednesday.

The first crack in my resolve came when I forgot that Tuesday was… Tuesday. And not Monday. And that Pen had an afterschool activity that necessitated a ride home. Suddenly, between episodes of Watch Out For the Big Girls, I was asking for the help that had been offered, and before long, it was straightened out.

Later that day, I ran out of ibuprofen, Benadryl, and bananas, three items I had deemed necessary to my survival. I called in the offer of grocery drop off, wincing a little as I did so, but then was cheered enormously by the sight of my friend’s face through the window.

I made dinner that night, but on the following day, found that I was in worse shape. I called in a second favor for a ride for Penrose, and then a third to have some dinner dropped off. I did a little writing, but was mostly a lump under the covers, working my way through Our Flag Means Death.

Bill returned that evening, and I fully released myself to just isolate and lie down (and binge watch Heartstopper; seriously, we live in a golden age of streaming television).

Asking for help isn’t always easy, but in communities like ours, the help is abundantly available. I’ve been on the giving and receiving ends of meal trains, carpools, emergency childcare, and more. The more difficult thing is to accept the help that’s offered and be OK with resting.

Courtney Naliboff teaches, writes, and plays music on North Haven. She may be contacted at