A Year Later … I’m Grateful, Not Fearful

9 Apr

Most people consider Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the start of the longest year ever. That was the day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. It was the night the president* spoke to the country from the Oval Office. The night the NBA stopped its season. The night we learned Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson had tested positive.

And yet, that night, after a stressful and frustrating day of work, I walked into a restaurant, saw some empty seats at the bar, and sat down at one to eat dinner, not even realizing why those stools between couples and other folks had been left empty. Even though I distinctly remember the guy on my right giving me a confused look, I stayed and enjoyed what was, apparently, a delicious meal. It was just another night.

The next day, Thursday, March 12, 2020 … that’s the day I consider the actual beginning of the pandemic.

My employer had declared it a global work from home day — just as a test — to see if we could handle it as a company. My coworkers and I had wished each other “good night” the day before, as if we’d see each other again on Friday or the following week. So that work from home day was more a novelty than anything else. 

But the day was anything but fun. Early on, movie studios started announcing that their much-anticipated releases (like F9 and A Quiet Place 2) were being put on hold. Broadway announced it was shuttering for the foreseeable future. Major League Baseball delayed the start of its season. March Madness was canceled. Museums closed. Concert tours stopped. Restaurants and stores closed. College campuses began to empty out. Etc. Etc. Etc. 

In what felt like one fell swoop, life as we knew it stopped.

Stubborn and unwilling to let my life change, I actually went back to the office the next day, via the T. Only a handful of folks made it in. I didn’t get much done. You might say the message was starting to sink in. So after a half day, I gave up and went home. 

And that’s where I’ve stayed for most of the last 13 months. By myself. In my one-bedroom condo. Not doing much of anything. Often worried about going out or being around other people — especially in those early days. Taking extra, sometimes unnecessary, precautions to keep myself and others safe. Criticizing those who did not take the pandemic and public-health guidance seriously. Settling into unproductive and, likely, unhealthy routines.

Waiting for the day my life could restart.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Cut to a year later — March 12, 2021.

That’s the day I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. 

That’s the day I received my first dose of the COVID vaccine. (Proud member of #TeamModerna!)

It was a miracle in and of itself that I was able to get an appointment in the first place. And it was appropriate that the weather that day was beautiful and Spring-like, with nary a cloud in the bright blue sky. 

But the symmetry was close to poetic: On the exact anniversary of the day when life stopped and so many things were put on hold, suddenly, things began to reopen for me, and there was promise and possibility. 

All of a sudden, I knew the specific date when it would be safe(r) to resume a degree of normalcy. Plans could be made. My life could be restarted.

And today, four weeks later, on another beautiful, blue-sky day, I have received my second dose of the vaccine. Again, another miracle. The clinic even put me in exam room 7 to get my shot.

Now there are just two weeks left till I’m considered in the clear. That’s April 23. Fourteen days from now … but who’s counting? (ME!)

We all went through these last 12 months in different ways. Whether you live alone or with a spouse or your parents or friends, whether you have kids or not, whether you live in a house or an apartment, no matter what your job is or your health conditions, it hasn’t been easy for anyone, in different ways. 

And I know I’ve had things easier than many other people did. So I consider myself very lucky.

But it still wasn’t an easy year, and there are scars that will be with me for a long time.

Those scars have now started to heal.

Thank you

I could not feel more grateful to the scientists who developed the vaccine so quickly, the healthcare workers who administered it, the government agencies and leaders who pushed for distribution to speed up, and so many other people who made this happen. Including Breanna, the nurse who gave me my shot today. And, yes, Dolly Parton.

I promise to make getting the vaccine worthwhile, and to take advantage of the opportunities being vaccinated now provides (passport or no passport).

A year ago, I was fearful, hesitant, frustrated, overly cautious, stubborn, and alone.

Today, for the first time in forever, I’m hopeful, excited, happy, healthy, and looking forward to doing things again — with other (vaccinated) people, increasingly without masks (when it’s safe to do so). 

But most important, I’m grateful. So very grateful.

What a difference a year makes.

(P.S. When you have the opportunity, I hope you’ll get vaccinated, too!)

7 Responses to “A Year Later … I’m Grateful, Not Fearful”

  1. Steve A April 9, 2021 at 5:21 pm #

    Fantastic perspective…Cheers Martin!


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