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The Power of Goodbye

Most Americans have not experienced what all of us are experiencing now. Almost all public events have been suspended or cancelled, schools are shut down, and people are working from home and not their offices. Elderly people with preexisting health problems are most at risk, and children the least, so Gramma cannot come over to babysit. There is a worldwide timeout going on.

Those of us old enough to be alive during World War II or the Korean or Vietnam Wars have experienced something like this. Young men were going off into battles raging in Germany, Okinawa, Korea or Vietnam, not sure if they were going to come home to their families.

There will be no March Madness to distract us, or a concert or play that we absolutely cannot miss. We are stuck at home, wondering what to do.

During the early days of the Vietnam War, I was a Navy lawyer stationed at Camp Pendleton and I went out to an advanced Marine Corps base and wrote wills for 50 or so Marines about to head into combat in Vietnam. I believe that perhaps half of those wills were probated within the next year or so. Many of those young Marines knew that there was a fairly good chance that they would not come home alive or in one piece.

But we should look at this unsettling time as a unique opportunity to take stock of our lives, and determine what we want to do with the rest of it. There will be no March Madness to distract us, or a concert or play that we absolutely cannot miss. We are stuck at home, wondering what to do.

There are so many questions. Should you use the paper money that someone who is infected may have handled before you? Should you clean your iPhone regularly? Using what? How should you interact with other people, including your family members? If you go to a restaurant, can you trust that the food you are served is not contaminated with the virus? If you are not at home, should you take the chance and fly home before all domestic as well as international flights are grounded? Should you redo your will now?

The answers to these questions will become apparent in the coming days and weeks. But in the meantime, here are ten things you can do to pass your free time:

1. Read some of those books you have bought but not have had time to read;

2. Binge watch that TV series you never had time to watch;

3. Write that autobiography or memoir you always wanted to put on paper (or your laptop);

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4. Watch some of those NetFlix movies that you are paying for each month;

5. FaceTime close friends or relatives whom you have not contacted recently:

6. FaceTime family members living nearby whom you are afraid to see face to face because of the Coronavirus;

7. Prepare or revise your will to make it current;

8. Study the stock market for some good stocks to buy that are now selling at an artificially low price due to the virus crisis and the Trump Administration's incompetent reaction to it;

9. Repair or fix that item in your home that you have never gotten around to; and finally...

10. Exercise by going hiking on a nearby trail, or running in a nearby park.

The Trump Administration and Congress have finally decided that this virus is indeed a true crisis that needs immediate attention, and measures are finally being taken in Washington to determine the extent of the spread of the virus and how to contain it. A number of states and local jurisdictions, including California and Los Angeles, are also taking responsible action to solve this growing crisis.

ted vaill

See you all soon, I hope…

Ted Vaill