Bryan and Michelle, Saginaw County

Storyteller: Megan Hoesman

In mid-March, Michelle was sitting at work listening to her coworker, a hypochondriac, talking about a virus that was spreading out of China. Michelle did not believe her, but still told her husband, Bryan, about it. Michelle and Bryan are both 46 and have been married for 23 years. They started a family with three kids, and live in Saginaw County. Bryan works as an insurance claims Technical Coordinator and mainly monitors business results for property and auto, and designs and implements new product initiatives. Michelle works as an insurance Personal Lines Underwriter. Her responsibilities are to process the changes to policies and to review new business.

Their lives changed greatly because they had to work from home. Because of the shutdown, their kids do not have sports, Michelle shopped online for everything, even groceries, and Bryan is more sensitive to gatherings, has fewer work events, and does less travel. To them, they feel like they both gained and lost parts of life because of the virus. They have had closer interactions with their family, more time with family, and have found that they have the ability to adapt to the circumstance is a matter of days. However, they have lost the ability to personally interact with their coworkers, their spring break was canceled because of travel restrictions, and special honors for school had to be canceled. This included their daughter’s and son’s graduation. To them, one of the biggest changes was that they could not gather with their friends or family because it was not safe.

The nature of gatherings as a whole has changed because they feel uncomfortable in social situations. When gatherings do happen, they have to wear masks which makes it harder to understand people. Although the gathering situation is sad to them, they both think that there has to be humor in the darkness. For example, Bryan and Michelle “planned” coincidental meetings with neighborhood friends when they went on walks. Their daughter graduated via a drive-through on a paper-decorated boat. Later that day, there were decorations all over the street.

The Pandemic made Bryan and Michelle learn to have more patience for their kids and for each other. It taught them that they can adapt to working from home by using technology to their advantage, something that they were not prepared for. They know what and who is important and what is not important, and have had to categorize when it is okay to be around people and when it is not. They learned lessons from the experience that they will forever be thankful for.

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