b'Life with MSS i n TSttaayyiinngg in Toouucchhi n t hee N Nin th Neeww NoorrmmaallBy Marcia Harris When I think about life before the pandemic, accomplish the same things I did there. I callI use the word everyone is starting to hate: our support group leaders to introduce myselfnormal. What was normal anyway? For me and ask if they are doing okay, if they needit was getting up around 6:30 a.m., walking anything, and just to talk. I nd many peopleto a bus stop, taking the bus to my job, working want to talk, not just during this pandemic,eight hours, then taking the bus back and but in general. I encourage them to call mewalking from the bus stop to home. I would anytime. wave to my neighbors, then go inside to wind Now, instead of a group text from mydown and watch TV or talk on the phone a lit- siblings here and there, we are having videotle to my friend. Maybe I would participate in chats on Google Hangouts. It is so much fun.a group text to my ve siblings about an event Three of my siblings are in New York, one in Newor share a picture, or perhaps go on Facebook Jersey, one in California, and I am in Florida.to see what was new in the world. We get together in person for weddings,Now normal has become much dierent for reunions, and such, but it is usually someme, and I suspect more for all of you. We have time in between. So why didnt we do thisbecome more aware of everyone and everything before? Why did we wait until we couldnt seearound us. Even though I cannot get close to each other to see each other remotely?my neighbors because of social distancing, I We have encouraged our support groupnd that while we are all at home because all leaders to have virtual meetings because theythe businesses have been closed, we are outside cannot meet in person. One group told me itmuch more and actually talk to one another. was so much fun for all of them, they decidedPeople that may have only waved to me in the to have the meetings twice a month insteadpast now stop by to ask how I am doing. Iwork in the yard more, even though it is dicult of once a month. It becomes a social eventbecause of the heat in Florida, and it is very where friends talk about what has been goingrewarding.on in each others lives. I am very lucky to have a job where I can We have been asked to join their meetingswork remotely from my home. While not the to speak about the many programs and servicessame as going into the oce, where the social offered by MS Focus: the Multiple Sclerosisaspect becomes part of my job, I am able to Foundation. I was honored to speak at a somemsfocusmagazine.org 46'