Note: An audio of 7 Observations one year into the pandemic is available via my library.
Well, here we are. One year into this pandemic. You’re sick of it. I’m sick of it. The entire world is sick of it. It’s been dominating the news for months and months now. Our lives have been turned upside-down. Although, way more for some than for others.
Is the end finally in sight? (Let’s hope.)
Maybe you don’t want to read one more thing related to the pandemic. (Sorry) For sure, we all want our lives back. We all want to return to some sense of normalcy, but do we even remember what that was like? Not sure I do.
What will post-pandemic normal look like anyway?
Are hand-shaking days over for good? Will we return to attending concerts and sporting events in packed stadiums. Will we eat again in crowded restaurants? Will we be forever cautious about being close to others while we stand in the check-out line at the grocery store? Will sold-out movies and Broadway shows ever be a thing again? Are masks here to stay?
And, of course, some parts of that normal we should not be returning too. But that’s a different post.
Here are 7 observations at one year into the pandemic.
1. I am now fully vaccinated. Dear Hubby and I received our second doses a few days ago.
The facility where we got ours did not allow photography, so no photo of the actual inoculation. I did grab a sticker and a button and took a photo when I got home because yes, it felt that important to document.
Mostly, I feel lucky, grateful and oh-so relieved. I fully realize not everyone is vaccinated yet, and I feel some guilt about this.
Serious questions have been raised about whose lives society values and whose seem more expendable. We all have differing priorities about this, but some of them should be the same, should they not?
For example, why weren’t Cancer Havers in active treatment under the age of 65 put at the front of the line, or at least closer to the front?
And I still say, if we cared so much about keeping schools open, why weren’t teachers at the front of the line from day one?
2. My life didn’t change all that much.
I live in a comfortable house. I work from said house. I don’t go out much anyway. Staying home hasn’t been hard for me. In fact, parts of ‘getting back out there’ I am not looking forward to.
Not seeing my kids, the rest of my family and especially Best Mother-in-law Ever was hard, but other than that, I’ve been fine stuck at home. Again, there is guilt. I know others have not been fine. I realize I live a privileged sort of life, and I try not to take this for granted.
My life was probably impacted most when surgery (elective, but necessary due to an implant rupture) was delayed.
You might want to read, When Surgery, Cancer Care, Emotions & COVID-19 Collide.
Surgery finally happened, and I am grateful for how that all turned out too.
3. I haven’t gotten that much done and this is okay!
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I’d hoped. I have not cleaned out my cupboards or rearranged my sock drawer. And believe me, they all need it. But I don’t give a shit.
I have not finished my next book, or even managed to read that many. I have not written extra blog posts or landed that big writing gig. I have not tried out a bunch of new recipes or learned how to bake bread. Or anything else, for that matter.
Again, guilt creeps in now and then, but not as often as it did in the beginning. Sometimes, getting through difficult times in one piece is enough. More than enough.
4. This idea of getting back to normal still feels a bit elusive.
I used to get annoyed with the “new normal” phrase that gets tossed around in Cancer Land. (Now, I just ignore it.) The notion is misleading if not downright deceiving. In Breast Cancer Land, it’s part of the Pink Ribbon Fairy Tale.
You get diagnosed. You get treatment. You finish said treatment. You move on. You find your new normal. You share the lessons you learned along the way because, of course, you morphed into a new and improved version of your former self. That’s it. Over and done.
Ahh. It all sounds so easy. So doable. If only… (Remember, metastatic breast cancer is not featured, often not even mentioned, in the Pink Ribbon Fairy Tale.)
5. I am grateful.
I’m grateful for science and scientists who made the vaccines happen. I’m grateful for all those who work in healthcare. I’m grateful to every worker who has helped in whatever capacity to keep things, to keep us, going. There are far too many to name. But I am grateful. I think we all are.
6. Grief and loss are out of the closet.
There have been Covid cases in my family, too, but thus far, there have been no deaths. 542,000+ families have not been as fortunate as mine. As I’ve written before, we cannot become numb to the staggering number of losses.
Perhaps society is now at least somewhat more grief literate, more compassionate, more willing to witness and to hold space alongside the grievers.
Perhaps our hearts are more open to all kinds of pain and all kinds of grief. After all, it’s not a competition. All of it matters.
7. We’ve been exposed.
Some of what has been exposed about us is good. But much that’s been revealed about us is not good at all. Clearly, there is much work to be done. The first step is recognizing that need.
A common thread throughout these 7 observations seems to be guilt.
It’s survivor guilt in yet another configuration or circumstance. I see it becoming yet another issue many of us will be dealing with in the months and years ahead.
Despite the adversities of the past year, I feel hopeful. My faith in our resiliency remains.
A pandemic is hard. Cancer is hard. Grief is hard. Many things in life are hard. Cancer or no cancer, pandemic or no pandemic, we are a resilient lot.
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we can do hard. Sure, sometimes we don’t do it all that well. We falter. We fail. Repeatedly. But we keep going. We keep trying. And we keep at it for the long haul.
In the end, whether speaking about a pandemic, cancer, or anything that’s hard, perhaps this is what matters most. Perseverance.
So, those are some observations I’m making at one year into the pandemic.
Share one or two of yours with a comment below. I’d love to hear ’em.
What does getting back to normal mean to you?
Do you see yourself resuming activities as you used to or will you likely be more cautious, at least for a while?
What is one way your life has been impacted by the pandemic?
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