Footprints in the grass and flowers, slippers that have been taken off

A New Place and A New Attitude

By now, my family and I have been seriously socially distancing since mid-March. While I see others on Facebook taking vacations, eating in outdoor restaurants with groups of people, taking pictures close together without masks at get-togethers, we have not been doing any of this. I try not to judge because I don’t know how we would be acting if I wasn’t living with lung cancer.

Nevertheless, sometimes I feel sad because it seems like we’re one of the few families around still quarantining.

Social distancing has been hard on me

Sometimes, I venture out to see friends. However, when I do this, we only visit in outdoor secluded locations such as someone’s backyard or a quiet corner of a park. I wear a mask, sit at least 6 feet away from others, bring my own drink and cup, and if I eat, I either bring my own food or make sure we order individually packaged portions. My teenaged boys, both of whom are doing their fall semesters remotely, are similarly careful and only see small groups of friends. Other than walking our dog and our weekly grocery store pickup (we no longer go inside to shop), my husband doesn’t really go anywhere.

As an extrovert who loves to travel, this is all pretty difficult for me. I dream of the day that I can again safely get on a plane, eat at a new restaurant, or see a movie with friends. No matter how much I want to do these things, however, I don’t feel comfortable taking chances. I haven’t lived for almost 7 years with lung cancer and had a lobectomy earlier this year to be taken out by coronavirus!

The next best thing to a trip to Japan

Last week, after researching outdoor places to visit in the suburbs, my husband suggested visiting the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, Illinois, just a little over an hour from our house. I had never heard of these gardens but I was pleased to see that they had a mask requirement and timed admissions to regulate how many people were allowed in at a time. My husband decided to take a day off work so that we wouldn’t need to go on a more crowded weekend day and we made a reservation for our timed entry.

Ivy standing in a gardenIt was actually the loveliest experience. There were hardly any other people there, so we felt very safe. The gardens were beautiful and calming and we spent nearly two hours walking around peacefully. It was so wonderful to see a new place that I hadn’t visited before. It wasn’t quite a trip to Japan, but it brought back memories and we were able to make some new ones as well. This visit really improved my mood and gave me hope that there would be other new experiences coming in the future.

Focus on finding local adventures

I’m going to continue to look around for similar adventures like this in driving distance from my home. My husband has lots of remaining unused vacation for this year. For those of you out there in situations like mine, I highly recommend that you do the same!

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