Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Penning the Pandemic

I hope in a year I get to look back and reflect on this time from out the other side. As an eternal optimist, I'm confident that will happen but man, this is hard.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm an extreme extrovert. I'd have people over or go to other people's house every night if it was logistically possible. Even if that's not the case, seeing friends in a strictly social setting a couple of times a week has always been something that I enjoy, that I look forward to, and even before this pandemic, something I knew I needed.

With Covid-19, we've chosen to side with caution. Some even saying it's extreme or that we're "Living in fear". Sorry, but we aren't. We're not living in fear. We're listening to experts who've said time and time again that although my family is likely to come through unscathed, we could give it to someone who might not be so lucky. In addition, there are countless documented cases of young, healthy people losing their life or even limbs due to Covid complications. Even though our odds would be very good of a full recovery, it's not worth the risk. 

Needless to say, it's made things very difficult for me. I've mentioned this previously on Facebook, and might've on here (Frankly, I'm not going back to look), but my mental health has suffered, and I don't say that lightly or in jest. I have felt anxious. I don't know that I've felt depressed, but I haven't been myself for sure. 

During the summer, Keya and I did have small groups of people over to the house, usually no more than three. We kept it to people who we were fairly confident were taking precautions similar to ours. It helped. A lot. But now with a surge in cases due to pandemic fatigue and selfishness, we find ourselves nearly quarantined again. 

Zoom is nice. It's fine. I've really enjoyed those times when I get to see friends that I wouldn't see otherwise, or that we can't see face to face due to Covid, but it's not the same. It's a band-aid on a gun shot wound. I'd still love to see friends' faces on Zoom. It helps. But I miss the face-to-face. I miss playing host. I miss the shared experiences that come with being together.

I assigned a word to some of my feelings the other day that I hadn't even thought to assign to it previously: grief. I'm grieving over what very nearly is a lost year. The word came to mind as we have been discussing the death of a colleague at Weeping Water. Cancer took one of the brightest lights you could ever hope to meet. But as grief suddenly became ever-present here, I realized that was part of what I was feeling about 2020.

My coworkers both at Weeping Water and VCNebraska are absolutely friends. They're friends that we spend time with away from work, but it's different when you're at work rather than gathering together for happy hour, or getting together for a meal. Spike's has been another wonderful glimpse of normality (And yes, I played in a mask both indoor and outdoors, even when I was the only one), but that's on hold right now too. I am also angry at things that have been paused, stopped, cancelled, or postponed because of people not following healthcare workers recommendations and pleas.

Ordinarily, we'd take a family trip in the summer of at least a week to Colorado. Now, with Vivian's birth this year (She's awesome, by the way), that likely wasn't going to happen anyway, so no big deal. Since moving, I don't think I've been away from Colorado for more than about five months (summer trip to holidays), but the last time I left the State of Nebraska this year was in March when my good buddy Michael and I flew out to snowmobile just as the first pockets of Covid were beginning to pop up in the U.S.

We were going to spend a MUCH scaled-down Thanksgiving in Colorado. We had to pull the plug. No way that we could, in good conscience, see that many different family groups (Keya's and mine). I can't risk giving it to someone period, let alone members of our families who are in their 60's and 70's. 

Then came Everett's birthday. A day which was celebrated by video calls from his various grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. I remembered a year prior when we had a house full of family and friends celebrating his second birthday. He was a champ, he has been throughout this thing, but man, I hurt. I wanted the same celebration this year, and every year, for him. I hope by Vivian's first we can be back to something like that.

So yeah, this is a long post to tell you that I'm grieving many things lost in 2020. I'm grieving what Covid has done and it might be a little selfish and maybe very narcissistic to think that you'll read this. However, as a conversation on the Pat and JT Podcast pointed out, this is very much like therapy for me. On top of that, I know I need to start prioritizing my needs and I need people to know how difficult this year has been. I've tried to check in on my friends, and I'm grateful to those who've checked in on me. 

I know the light is coming at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday, vaccines began being administered here in Lincoln. When the time comes that I am eligible, I will absolutely get vaccinated. Then, I will continue to mask and social distance until such time as the experts tell me it's safe to do otherwise. A month ago, I found out I have the antibodies against Covid, meaning I likely had it (Although I can tell you I had no symptoms). Until the all-clear is given, I will mask. I will stay home. I will do what is recommended to keep myself and others safe. I implore you to do the same.

We know what's driving the rise in infections and too many are flouting recommendations with the thought that, "It won't be me," or "If I get it, I get it." I understand. Healthy people are likely to survive it. However, your decision to go to church without a mask or eat in a restaurant may lead to someone's death even though they've followed guidance. I wouldn't want that on my conscience.

I don't see how it's worth it.


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