Hope is breaking out all over.
You can almost feel it in the air, as more and more Southwest Colorado residents get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Soon, this nightmare will be over, we’re thinking. Soon, life will return to normal. Soon, we will be eating and drinking and laughing and hugging with friends and family.
Well, yes ... and maybe no. Or at least not quite.
As public health officials keep reminding us, we’re not yet in the home stretch but instead still have several laps to go. We’re going to have to keep wearing masks and keep our social distance for months to come.
There likely won’t be a magic moment in which Anthony Fauci jumps up and down on national TV and says, “YES! NOW! You can take off your masks and throw them away!”
None of this is reason to quash hope.
Yet we are at a crossroads moment, one that seems to combine the joy of a graduation with the grief of a death.
Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and it is not done with its grim reaping. One woman we know has lost 13 of her family members to this disease. It is hard to imagine any other circumstance, except perhaps war or a natural disaster, that could wreak such tragedy on one family. These people in our midst will need our continued support as time goes on. When soon we are joyfully meeting friends for dinner, they will still be struggling to accept their unspeakable losses.
Others have lost jobs, businesses, homes. Weddings have been postponed. Trips of a lifetime for which people have scrimped and saved for years were cancelled.
Individually and collectively, we have been shocked, surprised and devastated by the events wrought by COVID-19.
And yet we have also learned a great deal about ourselves, our lifestyles and what matters most to us.
Unable to see the many people who normally inhabit our lives, we may have discovered that we didn’t miss encounters with some people as much as we did others. Sometimes, surprisingly, those we missed most weren’t on our mental “A” lists. Some of us had the courage to let those individuals know how important they are to us.
Many of us have been re-evaluating our lives. We’ve discarded dreams that were past their shelf dates, discovered new challenges we are exploring, quit doing things we thought we had to do because society demanded them.
With no need to rush off anywhere, we’ve rediscovered the simple pleasures of long conversations. We’ve even had unexpectedly deep conversations with the very people we’ve been living with for decades.
We’ve learned to bake, done crosswords, dragged dusty board games out of the closet and mastered the needless but fascinating games on our smart phones. We’ve planted gardens and fixed broken cabinet doors. And we’ve gratefully spent more time than ever outdoors in our beautiful Colorado landscape.
For Americans and for Coloradans, COVID-19 has reminded us of just how resilient we are as individuals. Perhaps only a few of us will ever participate in a barn raising or a quilting bee, but we do have a new appreciation for the collective to which we belong.
When we can get beyond the politics of the last year and focus instead on what we have as a community, we can see the road to our future laid out ahead like the yellow brick road Dorothy took on her journey home.
So, bring on the hope. And in these final months of this curious time, let’s remember that we’re all on that road together. And for now, keep those masks on.