COVID Confidential: Vol #6 – The Gift

It’s hard to believe that after almost nine months of being in a pandemic, hope appears to be on the horizon with the Federal Drug Administration’s approval of two vaccines to battle the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

This is the best present ever! It’s a one-size fits all gift idea that everyone can use, but not everybody wants. 

I can’t wait to do my part for the broader health and welfare of the community and get the vaccine when it’s available. Eric, the hubster, and I both don’t have the fear that some folks are chatting about. I am again putting my life in the hands of the federal government. Yes, again. I remember in elementary school all the students had to parade to the nurse’s office to receive a Polio/Smallpox vaccine. I still have the brand on my shoulder as a reminder! Honestly, I believe that with today’s technology and the amount of global brain power used in the creation of the Coronavirus vaccine, that we’re in good hands. But what about side effects? Like with any drug, there are side effects. These side effects have been compared to that of a flu vaccine, which is something I can handle, granted everyone is different. The old DuPont ad slogan sums it up best, “Better Living Through Chemistry”, and personally, I’m not afraid of a little prick (Get your minds out of the gutter. Merciful heavens!). This doesn’t mean that I’m not nervous about the vaccine, I just don’t like shots. 

Eric and I were talking recently about the spike in infection rates here in Oregon (and everywhere) and were saying that it is only going to be a matter of time before we know someone who either is infected or worse has died from the virus. Eric, being a good son that he is, often checks in on his mother (Lady Joan of Lemmon, SD) at the ranch. After speaking with her, Eric found out that she had been sick. She described her symptoms as labored breathing, heavy cough, and fatigue. We knew with the nonexistent mask mandate in the Dakotas, that chances are Joan had the Coronavirus. Her man-friend (he’s 90), not boyfriend, tested positive and later disclosed his results to her which confirmed our assumptions. Over the weekend, Eric’s father was rushed to the Rapid City VA Clinic because of complications related to COVID-19. At this time we’re unsure of his condition. Joan and her man-friend were lucky, but a well-known pharmacist friend here in Portland, wasn’t so lucky. Then Eric received word that the parents of high school friends, both died from virus, only two days apart. They had been married for more than 67 years. 

I fear that it’s only the beginning. With the growing number of people being infected or have died from COVID-19, we’ll likely be seeing more posts and notices about people we know. The volume of fatalities is casting a somber shadow over this season of giving, making this most wonderful time of the year, nothing more than a series of dark days dressed up with the sparkle and shimmer of a winter holiday. 

I really want, no, desire badly to be together with our friends, and with Joan who is usually here for Christmas and New Years’ celebrations. I feel like we all have sacrificed so much this year, but the potential dangers of large scale gatherings aren’t worth the risk for me. I don’t want to take the chance of endangering myself or others because of my impatience. Don’t get me wrong, Eric and I have been able to safely see a few friends outside of our video gatherings, but it just isn’t the same. It’s usually when holiday packages are dropped off on the doorstep or the random run in at grocery store. We even decided not to decorate for Christmas this year. It’s not like we’ll be able to host a party or festive dinner. As I write this, I can practically hear the gasps from a “gaggle-o-gays”, who are in shock by our betrayal! Really all kidding aside, neither one of us is feeling exceptionally jolly right now! 

I’m exhausted, emotionally and physically from the highs and lows of this year, I know a lot of people who feel the same way. It’s hard to continually put on a smile when so many around us are suffering. I recently had to go to the office for supplies in the Old Town, Northwest area of Portland, something I haven’t done in several months. I was surprised at how dire things looked when I parked. So many businesses are boarded up, clad with graffiti sprayed expletives, and a mix of some great street art too. The sight of the area reminded me of those old black and white images I’d seen as a kid in school of old derelict cities of yesteryear in decay. It made me sad to see this once vibrant area, now shuddered, torn, and silent.  

I remain hopeful and optimistic about what lies ahead. We human beings are resilient creatures and I believe it was the German philosopher Friedrich Nitsche who said, “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger”; granted he didn’t live through a pandemic. These experiences from the past 11 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days have changed us all in ways we likely won’t realize until some time in the future. A vaccine means hope and a chance we can slowly start the process of rebuilding again. I’m not just talking about the economic recovery which should be a priority, but the emotional recovery. Living in a year of the pandemic, I think about the first responders, nurses, and doctors that have had to endure a flow of sensory numbing loss. The students of all ages separated from their teachers and classmates missing the connections in building stable minds and bodies. Lastly to the rest of us, we have to learn how to heal from a brutally revealing and divisive election year not just in terms of political parties but also racially; Black Lives Matter. 

It won’t be easy, but when has anything really worth achieving ever been without its investment in time, heart, and soul? This year has indeed made us all adapt and pivot in ways we never would have thought possible. If we’re lucky, we’ll look back at the lessons learned in 2020 and find a way to infuse stability, community, and unity into the cultural artery of this country as we rebuild and prepare for tomorrow.  

Since the vaccine isn’t yet ready for the general population, we’ll have to settle for smiling eyes above our masks and muffled words for a while longer. At least now, we can see the potential end to this pandemic, but we have to first roll up our sleeves to receive our gift. 

#Covidsucks #BlackLivesMatter #Sciencesaveslives #Unity #Healing2021

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