This essay was originally written during the lockdown situations of 2020, but still applies in many ways and has been updated a bit. The holidays are a contemplative time, a time to be grateful, a time to love.
If we have learned one thing about the plague that has been cast upon us, it’s to never take anything for granted. As I racked my brain trying to come up with things to do, places to go, I realized that I took so much for granted. I may never take for granted being out in public with my face uncovered, if and when that actually happens for good.
Sunday services, I took for granted. I struggled to find places to worship. All of my favorite places were live streaming only. I, myself, am Catholic. Kandi, not so. But the Catholic church seems to be the only one open for business. And those services are not the same. But it’s all I got. I miss that sense of community. My (Kandi) life has now morphed away from this as a go-to activity for many reasons.
Happy Hours, I took for granted. Many places are no longer offering Happy Hours, some are back. I understand that their revenues aren’t what they used to be, but for many, Happy Hour is the reason to go out and spend. But either way, sitting socially distanced with the plexiglass is sterile, isolating and not of any interest. Things are improving, but still different.
Charities, I took for granted. COVID has crushed charities. Major fundraisers cannot or often do not happen. Virtual whatever is not the same. I receive invitation after invitation to Zoom events. I simply delete them. No real human connections there. They have their place, but it’s just not the same. Also with the then significant unemployment and now the bizarre labor shortage, the ability to be charitable has been diminished. Many charities will not survive. I understand the need to raise funds in any fashion possible, but I am not made of money. However, I have committed significant personal time and commitment to helping in any effort to raise funds. Sadly, that is less possible in the real world anymore.
Socialization, simple human interaction, I took for granted. I would give my left arm for a hug from someone other than family. Oh wait a minute, outside of the angel known as my wife, I cannot remember hugging anyone since February. This was during the heart of the pandemic, I am getting them now, but they are still not as frequent. Gathering in a group of more than two, what was that like? Sitting in a pew with a few hundred people around me, will that ever happen again?
I’ve seen a few folks in various online platforms all excited about a vaccine and that is certainly the long term solution. But do you know how long it will take to manufacture, transport (many of the vaccines require super cold transportation and storage capabilities), vaccinate the most important of us (police, fire, military, first responders and health care workers) and then the entirety of the general public? People see a solution and look past the sometime difficult logistics of getting to that solution. There is a light at the end of that tunnel, but I am afraid we haven’t entered the tunnel just yet. This paragraph was written when the vaccine was first starting to roll out. Who knew it would be so difficult to get everyone simply to do the right thing? Simply to be vaccinated when they have already been vaccinated for other things in their lifetimes?
Someday this will be over, but not any time soon. Actually, I believe this will be around for at least the rest of my life. We simply are not capable of pulling together as a society. And the carnage will be like a tornado, ripping though our lives leaving loved ones gone, homes destroyed, memories wiped out and many economically crippled. I actually had someone try to tell me we’ve been through worse before. I am certain, in the history of humanity, there has been nothing that has effected 7.6 billion people at the same time, no world war, no economic depression, no previous pandemic. I hope you can see here every day that I am very much a silver lining person, I have crafted and recrafted a life for myself, but you cannot deny the black cloud by sticking your head in the sand. Acknowledge it and keep moving forward.
Friends, I took for granted. Sure, I still am in contact with friends, both mine and Kandi’s. But being geriatric myself, my friends are also of a certain age. Some are ultra-cautious about COVID. I certainly respect that. Many were friends that I saw (while dressed) at certain activities, all gone, many gone forever. You text, stay in touch, but over time, the intertwined fabric of these shared experiences fades and the friendships atrophy. A friendship is like a muscle, it needs to be used, worked so to speak, to remain strong.
Running, racing, a sense of community, I took for granted. I won’t bore you here, but last year I ran 25 races. This year, four. I busted my behind to train for a marathon in April, you know the story…… Did so again for a marathon in September, them my body let me down. Now I limp around like an 80 year old (but am getting closer to being in fighting shape). As you know, I moved forward and look forward to the singe greatest individual accomplishment I have done. Individual. Certainly our marriage, children, all great, but done in tandem or with someone else.
Family, I took for granted. Thanksgiving will be significantly diminished. Christmas, that has little chance of happening as we would like. Have I hugged a daughter in a good 8 months? Nope. Have I seen my children as we normally would? Nope. I feel like I am sliding the weekly groceries under the cell door to my parents every Friday. Devout Catholics, struggling with health issues, they haven’t been in a church since March. If ever they would like to be in church as they near their end, it is now. Now we have passed through all of this, but I lost my father along the way. Life keeps chugging forward.
Civility, I took for granted. Do I even need to go into detail here? The political landscape (this was written before the election, but is no better now), social justice issues, right v. left, black v. the police, etc……..
What we thought was what life was, no more. Never take a single day for granted because (and I know it’s cliché), tomorrow is not promised. We’re all day to day.
Best Christmas gift ever (because I earned it!):
My BAA (Boston Athletic Association) hoodie!