2024 NATIONAL MEDAL
for Museum and Library Service Finalist

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Bruce and Delilah, the Beginning of Covid-19 Pandemic, March 2020

Author: 
Uta Burke

Bruce and Delilah – the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, March 2020

Bruce and Delilah

March 11, 2020; Part 1 by Uta Burke

Once upon a recent time, there lived a husband named Bruce and a wife named Delilah under the same roof which is not at all unusual. What was unusual was the fact that the two couldn’t be more different had they lived on opposite ends of the world. Anyway, they made it work by respecting each other’s opinions most of the time, but there were times when things needed to be addressed, as was the mounting stress about a virus that had the whole world in its grip. What was even more unusual was the fact that Delilah felt no concern whatsoever while Bruce was scared like a bunny rabbit, even though he outweighed his wife by a hundred pounds.

Every night he came home with a new horror story to fret about. Delilah, who had spent the evening watching her favorite shows or listening to her favorite music had been completely at ease until Bruce walked in the door.

Even in times of great distress she kept a positive attitude and tuned out the rising panic as much as she could. When her husband came home she fed him dinner, but lately she didn’t have to ask how his day had been because she could see it on his face. Bruce had a very negative outlook on life, and it showed.

Every morning, Delilah listened to Metallica or the second song of “Reiki Healing” on the way to work. Bruce listened to the radio and soaked up the fear mongering the news successfully spread among the masses, but only to the susceptible ones.

Because there had not been even one blizzard to overreact to all winter, the news stations were desperate for headlines, so the virus had to do. The whole world was holding its breath. Bruce stocked up on toilet paper and parked his 401k investments, and did all the other harmful things that fueled the hysteria, just as the reporters hoped folks would do. They could ride this horse into the ground before it was all over (btw, the virus will be done and forgotten by June. Mark your calendars. More on that in a future post).

Delilah tried to make light conversation and told jokes to put Bruce at ease, but it was to no avail. The doomsday mood prevailed and within minutes, the whole house was infused with worry. Will we all die? Will the stock market crash? Will everybody lose their jobs? Will money become worthless? Will the economy collapse? On and on Bruce went.

Then one night Delilah had an idea…

TBC

© by Uta Burke March 11, 2020 #reportinglivefromthescene

Bruce and Delilah

March 12, 2020; Part 2 by Uta Burke

Delilah paid no attention to the panic around her. Bruce on the other hand trembled like an aspen leave. When he came home the next night with THAT look on his face, Delilah served him a beer.

“Corona?! Are you crazy?”

“Why?” she asked slyly. “I just heard that the beer in front of you holds the antidote to the virus. Look,” she pointed to the label, “it says right here: contains ascorbic acid AND propylene glycol alginate! Those are proven ingredients to counteract the virus. One maintains bones and blood vessels, the other serves as a stabilizer, meaning, it stabilizes our health.”

Bruce looked stunned. “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. The stabilizer is made from kelp, which is a natural ingredient from the ocean and sold in health food stores since the beginning of mankind, so there. Now drink up.”

Bruce took a big gulp. “Do we have more? Actually, we should stock up on this stuff before it sells out!”

“I already did. And,” Delilah looked conspiratorial, “I’ve already bought stock, so when the market goes up, we’ll be rich!”

Bruce beamed. He was proud of his smart wife and gave her a pat on the behind. “Good woman. That’s how I like them.” He looked pleased until he saw the dinner she set before him...

TBC

© by Uta Burke March 12, 2020 #reportinglivefromthescene

 

Bruce and Delilah

March 13, 2020; Part 3

“Italian?! Are you a meshuggena? They just quarantined that whole country. Do you want to get us killed? We can’t eat Italian food right now, maybe never!”

“Do not fret, dear husband. I happen to know what I’m doing. The Italians are smart like us. Here, see that sauce? It’s loaded with garlic to ward off any virus, and vampires to boot. Think about it: if vampires, who can’t wait to get hold of blood when everyone is sleeping, fear garlic, what will it do to a virus that doesn’t even have a brain, huh? Just think about the zombies in Walking Dead. They are going nowhere without a brain.”

“But, but, but.”

“The garlic in the sauce destroys any virus and bacteria before they even get near our mouths, that’s what they’ll do.” She gave him a triumphant look.

Bruce’s resistance weakened. He looked perplexed for close to a minute while mulling this intel over, but since his wife was attending classes at the community college to enrich herself, she obviously knew more than he did. This one sounded right, so he dug in. It tasted as great as always and Bruce visibly perked up.

“What do you want to do for our anniversary,” he asked with his mouth full.

Delilah had been waiting for him to ask. She clapped her hands in child-like excitement. “Let’s visit our favorite Chinese restaurant and eat everything on the menu!”

Bruce nearly fell out of the recliner. “Out? Eating Chinese food? Are you on a suicide mission? Nobody goes out anymore, least of all to a CHINESE place!”

His wife looked like she had an ace up her sleeve. She bent close to Bruce’s ear and whispered, “In China, the virus is in retrograde so therefore, they know something we don’t. I want to stay as long as I can and listen in on their secret conversations to find out what they did to survive AND stop the virus from spreading!”

Bruce was impressed with his wife who could use difficult words like retrograde and include it in a sentence without hesitating or tripping over the pronunciation. He felt sure she even knew how to spell it. He patted her hand in approval.

But she wasn’t finished. “And then, once we know the secret, we can sell the information and get rich!” After thirty years of marriage, Delilah knew a thing or two about how her husband ticked.

TBC of course

Bruce and Delilah

March 14, 2020; Part 4

There were hardly any customers in their favorite Chinese restaurant which was a shame because they just got in a new load of shrimp, fresh off the boat. True, they came from New York harbor, but fresh was fresh.

Delilah eavesdropped on the conversations around them. “Did you hear that?” she whispered to Bruce across the table. “They just mentioned tea tree oil. Supposedly it kills 98.9 percent of all bacteria, viruses and fungi, maybe even cures dandruff. Let’s stop at the Vitamin Store on the way home and stock up.” She stabbed the air with a chopstick for emphasis.

Bruce nodded vigorously. “We’ll buy every bottle they have. Maybe we can sell that stuff later as a miracle cure.” He dug into his meal looking smug.

Delilah sighed but not so loud that he could hear it. She was a little distraught at her husband’s gullibility but found that most people she had encountered recently were like that. She already knew that tea tree oil was the most potent antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory natural product in the world and rinsed her mouth with it daily which is why she was never sick. Her dentist told her if everyone would be using that oil, he would be out of business.

The most important thing to remember was to get the right kind, made from the tea trees in Australia, not a chemically produced one. If it said “100 % Melaleuca alternifolia” on the bottle, it was the real thing.

But she wanted to go out on their anniversary and not sit at home because Bruce was scared, so she pretended this was the first time she’d heard about it. “See,” she said as they stopped in the store and bought several bottles, “it was worth eating out today, because now we know the secret to staying alive!”

 

Bruce and Delilah

March 15, 2020; Part 5

Life went on. A friend of theirs was expecting a baby this summer. Another friend just got engaged. Bruce and Delilah’s daughter, Roxanne, was in the market for a new dog, as well as planning another shark diving excursion to the South Pacific. Crocuses were peaking through the soil. A heartfelt thank you to the regular folks who keep the world going at a trot.

“Looks like we’re going to have a grand doggy soon, husband,” Delilah announced.

“But wife,” he said. “These are the end of times. Surely this must wait?”

“It doesn’t have to,” she frolicked. “Most of us will survive this threat and if not, death is just an illusion. We are only moving to another plane. Our fur babies will be there with us!”

“What plane? No planes are flying right now. And the animals would need shots and all that. Bad times are ahead.”

“Not airplanes. Planes. As in levels, frequencies. The higher our vibrations, the higher we go in the afterlife. Isn’t this exciting?”

Bruce’s eyes crossed. His ears made a funny sound. Some of Delilah’s words must not have come through right. Everyone knew that once life ended, there would be nothing but a black, silent void, like the inside of a mountain. He jiggled his ears while opening and closing his mouth, carp-like.

Before he could get another word in edgewise, she placed her laptop on his lap. “Look at this, Brucie. We are in the middle of a great awakening. Everybody is talking about it. We are heading into wondrous times, absolutely glorious!” She unclicked the pause button on a YouTube video and let Bruce find out for himself.

TBC

© by Uta Burke 2020

 

Bruce and Delilah

March 16, 2020; Part 6

Bruce’s head was spinning after binge watching documentaries on quantum and meta physics and testimonies by people who’ve had near death experiences and came back. What they reported sounded too good to be true, so he was skeptical.

Delilah knew not to preach. She went about her day cheerfully and whenever Bruce started panicking over current affairs, she whistled a tune to show him that she wasn’t scared. He came back from the stores freaking out over empty shelves and people fighting. She came back from the stores laughing about jokes they made at the checkout line.

Bruce was baffled. He wanted to know why she was so calm when the world was ending.

Delilah answered vaguely which left him wanting more. Over the next few days, he became more open-minded toward her believes and stopped ridiculing it so much. He even joined her in a prayer, holding hands. Unthinkable a month ago.

Was God up to something?

“It’s just nice to believe in someone bigger than yourself. After all, we didn’t create ourselves,” Delilah said. Even if you don’t believe, you don’t lose anything by entertaining the possibility of a higher existence.” She sensed Bruce tense up and changed the subject. “Let’s go to the beach,” she said, even though she knew it was called down the shore in New Jerseyan.

“The beach?” Bruce sounded as if he had stepped barefoot in a wad of gum.

“Yes, to the crisp, salty air and sunshine so we can feel like a mensch again. I’m done running and hiding.”

Bruce was speechless by so much bravery. His fearless wife stared death coldly in the face. The world was getting so crazy and scary that nothing made sense anymore. He figured he might as well buy into the insanity of calling death another stage. If she and many others believed there was more to the show after the curtain fell, he wanted to be part of it, especially after what he just learned about the afterlife.

TBC

#reportinglivefromthescene #wehavenothingtofearbutfearitself #fearisoftheenemy. #ploddingon

*Please keep an open mind about the opposite opinions on faith, life after death, frequency, vibration, energy, quantum and meta physics. You can pick Bruce’s or Delilah’s side, whatever you prefer but for me, once I understood that “the earth is indeed round,” there’s no going back to flat. We are now in a similar paradigm shift. I did a lot of research last year for my paranormal (but certainly not fantasy) series, “You only live once, do you?” and found tremendous information that made sense to me, even from a Christian standpoint. The goal is to get along despite different religious or non-religious views, because in the end, we are all one.

 (Asbury Park Boardwalk, picture taken by Allyson Burke in the midst of the pandemic, March 14, 2020)

Bruce and Delilah

March 17, 2020; Part 7

 

A day later, Delilah adjusted her attitude. Yes, the nice spring weather was balm for the soul, but too many people in one place didn’t help the situation. From now on, Bruce and Delilah stayed apart from each other and everybody else as much as they could, except in the stores. The next day, they dropped off their tax papers at their CPA’s, Jack. Along the way, they stopped at a grocery store to buy even more cat food. Bruce loaded up his own cart with things that were important to him.
 

As he loaded bag after bag of supplies they would never use into the trunk, Delilah planned a Corona Party after the panic wound down. It would give them something to look forward to. Or even better, they could drop off the surplus at a local food bank and animal shelter.

 

Jack wanted to greet Bruce with a handshake, but Bruce stoically hid his hands under his armpits and stared at a fly on the wall. Delilah however stepped forward and shook Jack’s hand, then applied hand sanitizer.

 

“Hell, might as well get it over with,” Jack said, laughing and not sanitizing.
 

Before leaving, they wondered if they should pay off the mortgage or buy new cars before the money became useless. Jack looked surprised. “Why would you do that? If anything, invest in stocks! Buy a good mutual fund.”
 

On the way home, they stopped at an ancient restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Birds chirped, squirrels frolicked, and the outside world looked deceivingly innocent. Pity life had changed so much in such a short time. You never knew what to expect from one day to another.
 

“Everything is shutting down,” Bruce wailed. “Everything is canceled. My sports!”
 

“Hush, Brucie. These are the right things to do. We’re flattening the curve.”
 

He looked alarmed. “Please don’t say that. I like curves.”
 

“Ja, but this is different. If we all do our part, we can slow down the spread. Make sure you put a few drops of the tea tree oil into your rinse water after you brush your teeth. It smells like turpentine, but your mouth will feel invincible! Just don’t drink it, you have to gargle and spit it out.”
 

Bruce stood forlornly in the kitchen. He didn’t know what to think and do anymore and looked at his wife for advice.

 

“Let’s watch a movie,” she said. “Something funny.”
 

TBC ##reportinglivefromthescene, #makingthebestofthesituation

 

Bruce and Delilah

March 18, 2020; Part 8

They watched “Spenser Confidential,” not a funny movie, but Bruce felt like seeing something blow up.

Delilah missed her family overseas. Her parents had passed away a few years ago, but her sister with her husband and children were in Germany and in the same situation as the rest of the world. Sometimes, Delilah needed an extra hug and dressed in something that reminded her of home. She looked through her closet and chose the sweater she knit during a visit home. It held a lot of memories for her. The hours spent with her dad in his home office discussing insurance and investments, on the couch with her mother watching TV, at the playground with her young daughter, at her aunt’s and uncle’s in the nearby city for coffee and cake.

At the time she knit that sweater, Delilah knew one day she would look upon it with fond memories. Now the memento flooded her with evocation. She also picked a scarf that once belonged to her angel mother. When she wore these items, she felt like being embraced by her loved ones.

Other days she wore a piece of clothing gifted by a friend or relative, or an item she bought at a special time and place. Others surely surrounded themselves with mementos, too, she mused. She couldn’t be the only one, because it really made a difference.  

It comforted her.

Bruce had none of these benefits and he paid for it with worry and anguish.

*You will notice how the story and tone changes from day to day, just as our lives are. Be assured Delilah is still her upbeat self, keeping afloat and thinking positive. God is aware of what’s going on and is permitting it, so she stays in the faith and continues to live in the best possible way for her and her family. Besides, #HarryHarry would not let up until he’s fed anyway; a pandemic is no excuse for a cat!

#onwardsoldiers!

 

 

Part 9 (written on March 18, 2020)

Bruce paced the hallway. “I just want to make sure we’re okay. Nothing is okay right now.” He wrought his hands.

“Bruce, honey. The earth is going through a cleansing. In my opinion, the virus we are in the middle of has to do with the awakening. When the body has a virus, it responds with a fever to get rid of it. The earth, after years of abuse, has reached its limit. Mother Earth is healing herself. I think that’s what’s happening and I am not surprised, other than how quickly it happened.”

“But how long is this going to last? A month? A year? A hundred years?” His whole face was a question mark.

“June.”

“What’s in June?”

“It’ll be over by then,” Delilah said calmly.

Bruce waved a hand. “You and your predictions.”

She shrugged.

He expected a sermon.

When nothing came forth, he asked, “Why? What makes you think June?”

“I’ve heard from a reliable source that Tibetan monks held a group meditation last month and it was revealed that by June all this will be over. So relax.”

Bruce shook his head and disappeared in the kitchen. “Buncha idiots.”

“As good an explanation as any out there right now. Let me believe in a universal consciousness. I can feel the difference already. You’re walking the hall freaking out; I’m sitting on the couch writing my next book. My life is tons better.”

*Bear with me on that: I know it sounds crazy, but how crazy is what we’re going through right now? According to the great awakening theory, (everything is energy, frequency, and vibration, the teachings of quantum physics, all those things you cannot argue over or avoid anymore because they ARE real. Search Max Plank, Dolores Cannon, Roberta Grimes, and many others) the earth has already shifted to a new location in the universe, that is why the sky is a different blue than we remember from childhood and the weather pattern has changed, too. This global adjusting is part of the process. We will emerge stronger and better, it just takes time.

TBC

#reportinglivefromthescene, #hangonsloopy!

 

Bruce and Delilah

March 19, 2020; Part 10

Bruce called breathlessly from one of the stores he delivered bottled water to. He held a pack of toilet paper rolls under each arm. “I got the last two. What else do we need?”

“Please, no more toilet paper,” Delilah groaned. “We have enough for months.”

“Fine. I’ll give it away. But that’s on you!”

Delilah held her head. She was grateful her accounting class continued online, and she was busy. She hated numbers. It was the perfect distraction. As she lost herself in chart of accounts that refused to balance, the world felt normal, like the good old days of last week.

“Anything else?” Bruce huffed.

“See if they have disinfectant wipes. That’s really all we need right now.”

“Nah, not a chance. They’re completely out. Okay, I let someone else have the toilet paper.” He sounded bereft, as if he just gave away his last shirt. “Let’s just hope we’ll survive this.”

“We will. What’s the big deal anyway? If we don’t get the virus, we’ll still die someday. It’s not like we’ll be spared forever.”

TBC

# reportinglivefromthescene, #toiletpaperforyears

Remember, a rainbow is preceded by a storm

 

Bruce and Delilah (written March 20, 2020, posted the next day)

Part 11

Delilah tied her sneakers, getting ready for her daily walk slash run. The house across the street looked quiet. Her elderly widowed neighbor, Alice, must be staying with one of her children during this time. To make absolutely sure, Delilah knocked on her door to check if everything was okay.

Alice was home, wearing a robe, her oxygen tank next to her.

“Oh. I thought you were with your sons or daughters for sure. I haven’t seen any cars parked out front lately.”

“No, no,” Alice said. “I want to stay here. I’m taken care of. My son died last week.”

“Oh Alice! I’m so sorry. What happened?”

Alice told Delilah that he was supposed to have heart valve surgery but needed to get stronger first. He rested at home. One night he went to bed and didn’t wake up. Alice began crying.

Delilah needed to be practical. “My heartfelt condolences. I’m so sorry, Alice. I wish I could hug you, but I really can’t, you know.”

“Yeah, I understand.”

“Do you need anything from the store? Do you have toilet paper?”

They laughed.

“Yeah, I have enough. Thanks for asking, sweetheart.” Alice blew a kiss. “Can I have your phone number, though?”

And the birds chirped and the trees erupted and the flowers colored the landscape as only they could, and nature tried to show off her beauty, acting her usual self as if everything was fine, and we only needed to wake up.

“Those who have health have hope, and those who have hope have everything.” –Arabian Proverb

TBC

Update on Alice: She passed away on May 16, 2020 due to complications of lung cancer which she was diagnosed with three days before. I was outside when the ambulance picked her up. She said goodbye to me with her eyes. I miss her terribly but know she wanted to be with her son.

Bruce and Delilah

March 21, 2020; Part 12

Bruce returned from a trip to the store in disbelieve. He saw people fighting; the police had to step in.

“People are scared. Be patient with them,” Delilah advised. Here, let me read you today’s devotional.”

Bruce sat and listened, which was a miracle by itself.

“You cannot wait to forgive someone who hurt you until you feel warm and loving toward that person. You’ll probably have to do it while you are still hurting – when forgiving is the last thing you feel like doing – but it puts you in the “God league.” It puts you squarely on the road that Jesus Himself traveled on. Don’t forget that one of the last things He did was forgive someone who didn’t deserve forgiveness, and He did it while hanging on a cross being crucified.” (Joyce Meyer)

“Well, if that works for you, good. But I’ve seen too many bad things in my life to believe in God.”

“Okay, even if we take God out of the equation, and just be nice and kind and helpful, what’s the difference? If you’re not doing it for the love of God, just do it for the love of others. Bottom line, you can’t go wrong.”

 “Yes, you can. People will step all over you. They take advantage and screw you.”

“Acting loving toward people who abuse and mistreat you is not a sign of weakness but of almost inhuman strength. It also glorifies God.”

“If I’m one thing, it’s the opposite of being a doormat,” Bruce insisted.

“It takes more strength to pray for the enemy and ask for blessings, even though you are angry at them and wish them harm. At the same time, you are leading yourself out of a path of destruction to freedom.”

Bruce got up. 

 “People who hurt others are hurting themselves. They don’t need more hate in their lives. If we dish out reassurance and understanding, we are doing the whole world a favor. Because the universe is a mirror – what we send out comes back to us.”

Sorry for the sermon, but it is Sunday and I gave this a lot of thought.

TBC #reportinglivefromthescene #Sundaysermon

 

You know, we are kind of lucky. The sun is shining, we are heading into spring, it feels cheery outside. This mess would be so much worse in November.

 

Update, June 10, 2020, from Uta Burke as Uta, not Delilah:

I did not continue writing this blog, because my mojo left me. I couldn’t write a sentence for two months. Instead, I walked daily for a full hour as opposed to my usual half hour, and added stretching to my routine. My daydreaming stopped. My mind became numb. We continued working, our daughter at home in her apartment in Asbury Park, NJ, my husband Rich as a truck driver delivering water instead of beer, and I in the office but later switched to often working from home as well. I finished my Accounting class but it was hard. I would have needed more interaction and feedback, and struggled the whole time. I did get an A, but I think we all did. It was just hard and I felt disconnected from it all.

The German language class I assist in on Saturdays moved to Zoom meetings. It was okay, but tiring.

The virus scare has been replaced by Black Lives Matter riots and demonstrations, after the killing of George Floyd by a white police man. It started the biggest civil rights revolution in history.

My daughter attended a peaceful march in Asbury Park on and wrote this about it:

Uta Burke

June 2 at 7:25 AM · 

Proud of my daughter who wrote the following:

I am so proud of my town and also my state as all of our protests across the state have ended peacefully!
Asbury's protests brought out and unified such a diverse group of people: Black, white, brown, Latino, Asian, sunburnt beach goers, surfers, skaters, LGBTQ+, hippies, punks, bikers, witches (yes really they were burning sage and had "witches against white supremacy"), young, old, the homeless and the well off, dogs, and yes even police.

On the way to the rally several officers who saw us said "hello, how are you? Please stay safe. Make sure you drink water it's still hot out there!"
I saw a black man and a white officer have a conversation and shake hands after.

As people pushed past each other to get closer to those on the steps speaking, everyone said excuse me or pardon me, please and thank you. People handed out water bottles and protestors left the march to discard their empty bottles in bins on the sidewalk instead of littering. One guy had a backpack full of granola bars and water and asked "does anyone need anything? Stay hydrated, have a snack!" And EVERYONE wore a mask.
We walked past so many stores, parked cars and police cars- not a scratch, not a dent, not a broken window or can of spray paint anywhere. Nothing exploded or caught fire. No tear gas or bullets, no guns pointed.

In between the anger and the hurt and the chanting of "Black lives matter!" "Say his name!" "No justice, no peace, no racist police" there was just regular people and regular conversation.
Some of my favorite things I heard today between chanting:

- Hey!! I haven't seen you since the plague!
- "How are we supposed to find him with a mask" "He said his mask is blue" "They're ALL blue!"
- " Remember his hair is probably long now" "oh right "
- "Hey man your shoe is untied "
- "A drone! Smile!" "We're wearing masks" "Yea but our eyes can still show joy" "We're wearing sunglasses dude"
- " do you remember where we parked the car"
- * walking past the press* A very fabulous gay man: "ooo get my good side baby" *everyone laughs *
- *walking past the geese in Wesley Lake* "what do you think they think we're doin?"
- little black boy to his mom: "I can't wait to tell dad about this!! Also can we get ice cream?"
-" Babe your sign's upside down"-
"I seriously need to pee"
- "I love her shoes"
- "I have no idea where tf we are"
- " aww puppy!"
- "what do you want to eat after?"

My point of this is not to make it look like we're losing steam. That we're at the protests but talking about other stuff, and not what's at stake. Because that's not true! The fight is not over, the revolution is not losing interest. What I'm showing is inside the crowd, below the blanket of anger, we are kind, we are human. We are the same! We mess up and hold our signs upside down, our shoe laces come undone, we forget where we park our cars, our bladders interrupt us. We still smile for pictures, we look for our friends in the crowd, we crack jokes to make things more bearable. We care about each other. I can't imagine the people inside the protests in other cities are much different, that they didn't get hungry, or need to pee or crack jokes, or compliment each other’s shoes. We are the same! And our unity is terrifying for those in power. The murder of George Floyd unified us, then the riots divided us again. Idk who started all of them, I'm sure both sides are to blame, but I can't imagine that some of them were not, not by design. We have to stay united. Allyson Burke

Picture taken by Allyson Burke, Asbury Park, June 1, 2020

I was never really afraid of the virus, but many were. To me it felt as if I was observing the happenings from a parallel planet, or on TV. Somehow, it did not affect me. I can’t explain why, I felt calm the whole time. Maybe my subconscious knows more than I can understand at this time.

 

This young man couldn't walk the stage for his graduation due to the pandemic. So he took his graduation picture in his cap and gown in the streets during the protest.

This is 2020 in one picture

 

NYC