Mamma in Milan


As of last night, March 11, 2020, Giuseppe Conte ordered even more restrictions on the citizens of Italy. Those restrictions include closing down restaurants and bars, which were already operating under strict guidelines, and closing everything else with the exception of medical offices, post offices, banks, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Interestingly, tobacco/newstands are also still allowed to operate.

A sign on swing sets in my neighborhood park stating the park is closed.

Conte appealed to the civic duty of Italians. In order to protect the most vulnerable, he called on citizens to respect the ordinance and stay at home as much as possible. Every evening the Dipartimento della Protezione Civile reports the day’s numbers. Yesterday’s numbers are staggering: 12,462 cases in the whole country, with 827 deaths. Here in Lombardy there are 7,280 cases and 617 deaths. Just since my last post the number of cases have increased by 3,290 and deaths have increased by 210. Most of those deaths have occurred here in Lombardy.

This piazza is usually full of life; both young and old gather here but today it’s eerily silent.

The local news is full of stories about tragedy; fairly young people (40s and 50s) in ICU, the lack of hospital beds and ventilators, and the new sad norm of the elderly dying alone because their loved ones are not allowed to be at their side for fear of infection. Those same families are then told they can’t have proper funerals to honor their dead.

A line of people waiting to enter the grocery store. Stores are open but they only allow a small amount of people in a time.

When there is so much bad news and the only sound outside is that of the occasional ambulance, it’s tempting to panic and live in fear. Here are some things I’ve been doing to help my mental health:

  1. Pray – I’m a Christian and prayer is a huge source of comfort. I can go to my heavenly Father and tell him all that concerns me and pray for others. He listens and is sovereign over all. I trust that I belong to him in body and soul, both in life and in death.
  2. Read the Psalms – At such a time as this the Psalms are like a healing balm. Lately, Psalms 23, 46, 91, and 121 are favorites.
  3. Gardening – I’ve planted fresh flowers that were for sale at the grocery store and put them on my window sill so I have something pretty to look at.
  4. Studying Italian – I have more time to dedicate to my studies. It’s great that my tutor is available via Skype.
  5. Walking and bike riding – We’re not prohibited from taking a walk or biking so long as we don’t do it in groups and stay a meter away from others. Yesterday was a beautiful day so I went on a hour long bike ride.
  6. Trying new recipes – I got an air fryer a few weeks ago and it’s been fun to try new things. My favorite so far are bacon-wrapped mushrooms. Yum!
  7. Turning off the TV and listening to Motown – Motown makes everything better.
The view from my window.

As I think about what the next few weeks holds for us here in Lombardy, I remember the wise words of Elizabeth Elliot, “When you don’t know what to do next, just do the next thing.” Meals needs to be prepared, the floor must be mopped, and laundry awaits.

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