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An Anniversary I’d Rather Forget

By Lori Welch Brown

Can you believe we have been dealing with COVID-19 for two years?  I’m recalling those first scary months.  The not knowing was paralyzing.  Wear gloves.  Don’t wear gloves.  Wash your hands.  Wash your hands longer.  Wipe down your trash can.  Leave your Amazon boxes outside for 48 hours.  Drink bleach.  Wash down with wine.

I remember walking down the hall to my Dad’s room in his assisted living facility and passing a nurse who said in hushed tones, “You really shouldn’t be here.  Lock down started this evening.”  That was March 15, 2020.

I didn’t understand what that meant, but the thought of not seeing Dad for a couple of weeks terrified me.  Turns out I didn’t see him again until he went into the ICU in June.  Who’d have thought a trip to the ICU would be a blessing? As it turns out, Dad made two more trips to the ICU that year (non-COVID related) before he contracted COVID in December and passed away.

When I hear people question the severity of COVID or try to pass it off as a political scare tactic, my blood boils.  Yes, Dad was 90.  His days were numbered.  I get it.  But, did he deserve to die alone in a room after being sequestered for the better part of nine months?  And, we’re the lucky ones.  Another friend said goodbye to her mom over FaceTime while watching her slowly drown in the fluid built up in her lungs.

Pardon me for not marking this anniversary on the calendar and celebrating with confetti and balloons. While I may not be shooting off fireworks to commemorate the occasion, I am grateful.

All of the nurses and doctors who risked their lives to care for the sick are true heroes. The caregivers who went in and out of my Dad’s room each day hold a special place in my heart.  What about the teachers who re-invented their teaching methods to accommodate home schooling needs?  The small business owners who did what was needed to keep their doors open?

So much has happened in the span of two years.  Like most things outside of our control, it’s challenged us in ways that are still hard to fathom.  Many of the effects may not be realized for years to come.  Nonetheless, we carried on, one foot in front of the other—six feet apart from all the other feet.

I learned some valuable lessons about myself, my family, and my community.  I learned that my coping skills can be improved upon.  I learned that staying home is actually a blessing and that I have taken a lot of my creature comforts for granted.  Being able to go to the gym is a privilege, as well as going to the library.

I learned that I’m not a great cook, but I’m not a bad cook either.  Baking bread is not my thing, but I’m a Rockstar at eating whatever comes out of the oven.  Cookies, anyone?  Making art is comforting, a form of therapy in itself.  Oh—and therapists should definitely not be taken for granted.  I’d have been lost without mine.

I was reminded of how much I love supporting small businesses, and I was blown away by their resiliency and their ability to reinvent themselves seemingly overnight to accommodate our needs.  Curbside pickup is brilliant!  I’m grateful that my fave restaurants were able to remain open, and while I missed seeing many of the wait staff, it was wonderful to enjoy take-out versions of beloved dishes. And, take-out margaritas were life changing.

As I write this I’m sitting on a plane on my way to Houston to visit my cousin. She and my Dad were close, and she was upset to not be able to attend his memorial service.  The last time I hugged her was at her husband’s funeral in December 2019.  That feels like three lifetimes ago.

It’s exciting to be on a plane again, and I’m trying not to be fearful.  COVID is a fact of life now, and whatever happens, happens.  The past two years have taught me that you can’t plan for life.  All you can do is roll with it as best you can.  Learn the lessons and keep moving forward.  My cousin’s husband Randy used to always say [insert Texan accent], “If you ain’t moving forward, you’re f*cking up.”

Cheers to moving forward.  As good as it is to remember where we’ve been, it’s also nice to forget.

And remember—the luck of the Irish is with you this month so raise a glass and thank your lucky stars and clovers.

About the Author: Lori is a local writer, painter and pet lover who loves to share her experiences and expertise with our readers. She has been penning a column for the OTC for over 20 years. Please follow Lori online on Medium for more missives like this.

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