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Some thoughts on COVID-19 a year later
From the Valley
Thatcher and Waylon at Aldis
EM’S BOYS seem to be holding up pretty well under the mask regimen during a shopping trip to Aldis. One wonders what such young folks will make of the world when things go back to normal?

RISING SUN - Can you believe it? We’ve made it an entire year, floating along in this, our modern plague–COVID 19. 

When thinking back to this time last year, I remember talking to my best friend Stephanie. She was working at a beauty salon that is in a Walmart in Iowa. She started noticing people panic buying things like canned goods and toilet paper. She advised me to stock up on a few essentials. 

I actually laughed at her and scoffed that she was being crazy. 

“I just talked to the director of the health department for Grant County, he told me we should be afraid of influenza not coronavirus,” I informed her.

All the while, Chasca and I were making the big choice to buy a new home, while working our jobs and going about our lives until it all changed. Face to face, in close proximity, without a care in the world. 

And then, suddenly, we were at home, sheltering in place, we were all in it together. I remember standing at my kitchen sink looking out my window and crying. Wondering if I was going to catch this virus or someone in my family would, and perish. We stopped going to the store and became more grateful than ever for the adaptability of my community, as places like Johnson’s One Stop went above and beyond to serve us during this frightening and dark time. 

We managed to finish what we started and buy our little slice of homestead paradise. We scrapped all of our plans to have family help us move and managed to accomplish this feat and many more. We kept our distance from those we loved. We found ourselves physically holding our children back from play and loving embraces, trying to protect them from what we couldn’t see. 

Summer passed quietly and we opened our circle slowly, still keeping as cautious as possible, trying to protect those we love. Washing our hands and being beyond hypervigilant about every move we made. 

And we learned how incredibly difficult it can be to see things differently than others, especially those we love–navigating opinions, choices and the unknown. 

Slowly but surely, the numbers rose and rose. More and more people we knew were sick and some even died. But, there were those who recovered too. Many of us rallied around the daily updates of John Sime, the former owner of Sime Funeral Home, because his progress and now recovery gave us so much hope. 

And finally, the vaccine. What felt like something that would never arrive, is finally upon us. When I saw the picture of the first person I personally knew getting vaccinated, I cried then too. I cried because I felt like the long dark night was almost over and that in fact dawn would come again. 

And now two people in my ‘pandemic pod’ have received their vaccines and are approaching the official time of safety. They’re preparing to resume some of the simple pleasures in life like going out to eat and enjoying the company of friends and family, with less fear. It feels kind of surreal seeing them step forth into this brave new world, wearing their shields internally. It also gives me this funny sensation that I jokingly dubbed “empty pod syndrome” knowing that it won’t just be the few of us anymore, but the world at large. I’m a little scared, excited, and a mix of other feelings I don’t know how to describe, all at once. 

Eventually our time will come too, where Chasca and I will be able to put our trust in science and receive our vaccines as well.  And we will feel shielded and safe, and once again remember what it feels like to have a bare face in public, hug with reckless abandon and not worry if we were to laugh so hard we spit our drink at the table that we will be able to share with everyone we love. 

I know this year has looked different for so many. For some it had been deeply painful, isolating and frightening. For others not much has changed or it’s felt like one big inconvenience. But what I hope we can all take away from this is the same thing I’ve hoped all along. I hope we can find it in ourselves to be a little more kind, compassionate, generous and loving. It’s not always easy, especially for me. We all feel so strongly that it clouds our eyes and our hearts. Life is hard and frustrating, but brighter days are ahead and we can try to be a little better a little  more every day.