The passage of time during this past year has been so distorted. Traditional time markers have shifted to death counts. This week marks a year since the country shut down from the novel coronavirus. The Bible teaches us that to everything there is a season. I have marked the seasons of this past year with emotions that I have encountered. Perhaps you have experienced them, too?
Season One: Fear. My husband is a frontline health care worker. I also have a child with a disability, who is immune-compromised. The first couple of months during the pandemic, I remember being paralyzed with fear. There was so little understanding of what was to come or the severity of the problem we had before us. I remember making futile attempts at trying to control things in my life. We set up quarantine quarters in our house for my husband. I watched the news constantly, trying to process all of the information and perhaps learn something. I cooked and loaded up my freezer and pantry.
Season Two: Disappointment. America and Missouri have responded abysmally to the pandemic. I felt and still feel disappointment in the politicization of the virus and how mask-wearing became a culture war issue. I imagined that our country would have responded like we did after 9/11, facing the challenge of our time with solidarity. According to 2020 data, somewhere between 25% to 30% of Americans believe that the virus is a hoax, created in a lab by scientists and/or that the death count is inflated for political reasons. Some media sites have propagated this misinformation and lies. I am not sure how long I thought the pandemic would last, but I remember thinking that, surely as a country, we would have testing and tracing widely available before the holidays. Instead, we got family gathering superspreader events. Put that in the bucket of disappointment.
Season Three: Gratitude. My family has a tradition. Each Sunday evening at dinner, we write down all of the good things that happened in the previous week and those things that we are grateful for. We put those slips of paper in a jar. On New Year’s Day, we gather to read all of the slips from the previous year. Every week (and it’s still going), we start off by writing: “So far no one is sick.” The threat to my family’s health and safety is still forefront in our minds, and we do not take it for granted. My family is also profoundly grateful for all the health care heroes, including my husband, and the frontline workers, like the employees at our grocery store, mail and delivery carriers, teachers, and sanitation workers. Then there are the scientists who have worked tirelessly in producing, testing and mass-producing the vaccines that will save lives. Those vaccines are what will carry us out of this pandemic. And who would have thought there would be gratitude for available Wi-Fi and toilet paper?
Season Four: Grief. How can anyone think of this pandemic without feeling some form of grief? We have all lost so much. Too many lost loved ones. Too many missed being comforted during their time of loss. Some lost their livelihoods. Many lost some level of their health. Our children lost academic and social interactions. Young adults lost important milestones. Many of our most vulnerable lost meals. May we show each other compassion and love as our community moves through the grieving process.
Season Five: Frustration. I have been feeling a great deal of frustration regarding the vaccine rollout, specifically in the St. Louis and St. Charles areas. My husband and I have both received our vaccines since we are health care workers, but our child has been on multiple waitlists for weeks. It is a shame that St. Louisans need to drive hours to get vaccinated.
Season Six: Joy. I have also experienced hidden gems of joy and positivity during this past year. I have a newfound appreciation for friends and family in my life. I have made new friends through Zoom meetings. I have been able to connect with far-away friends through old fashioned letters and FaceTime. My house has been cleaned and organized from top to bottom. I enjoyed more time outdoors, appreciating nature. I have spent lots of quality time with my teenager. I appreciate those hours of togetherness as I know, too soon, my young one will be out of the house. I pieced together and completed a king-sized quilt for my husband and my bed. It physically and metaphorically kept us warm through the dark winter.
It feels as if spring has sprung here in St. Louis. So, let’s move to (hopefully) the last season.
Season Seven: Hope. Allow me to let the spring metaphors flow here and end with a sense of hope. Hope springs eternal. Hope endures. Let’s rise out of these dark days refreshed and renewed.
Editorial Board member Lynn Schmidt is the Missouri state leader for Stand Up Republic and is a registered nurse. She lives in St. Charles. firstname.lastname@example.org