Hope in the Time of COVID

This last year has been rough for all of us. Definitely more rough for some than others. I’m one of the fortunate ones that had no problem switching to remote work, didn’t lose my job, and had kids who were able to do their school remote with little difficulty. I didn’t get sick, my husband and kids didn’t get sick, and no one in my immediate circle has died from COVID. I am knocking on all the wood near me as I write this.

But even with all of that good luck, I have not felt much hope for the last year. Between the political climate of 2020 and going absolutely stir-crazy, I spent a lot of time wondering how we were ever going to get through this.

But then the vaccines started to become available. Here in Ohio, my friends who are teachers and healthcare workers were able to get vaccinated within the first two stages. My parents were able to get them rather early as well. Then my husband’s parents. And then, miraculously, Ohio began to quickly open up eligibility for other, younger people. The day they announced that people aged 40+ were going to be eligible in a couple of days I found that the local health department was going ahead and offering the vaccines to that age group and I was able to get appointments for my husband and myself. Several of my friends were able to get appointments. It felt wonderful.

We got our first shots and then nothing much changed. Which is right and well, nothing should have changed, and I don’t know that I was really expecting any change, but I just continued to go about my quarantine life, excited every time I heard of someone else I know getting their first shot. Within a couple of weeks every adult in my husband’s and my immediate family had their first shot and that felt amazing.

Then on Tuesday this week, my husband and I went back for our second shots. It didn’t affect him much, he got a little tired, but I was very glad I had gone ahead and taken the next day off work. I was tired, all of my muscles ached, my skin was hot, all my nerve endings were sensitive and tingly, I had a headache. I sat on the couch and watched movies for most of the day.

I did leave the house one time, though. My husband took me to the bookstore.

In the before-times, we would go to the bookstore probably once a week, on average. We would go just to hang out and look at all the new books that had come out. We’d grab a stack and sit at one of the tables, flipping through each one and trying to talk ourselves out of buying all of them. When the kids were younger, we’d bring them to play at the Thomas the Train table in the kids section and let them read us books from the little stage. When my husband and I went on dates and we had time between dinner and our movie, we would go to the bookstore to wander around for a bit. With COVID running rampant, though, and enough people in our community either not wearing masks or wearing them improperly, we restricted our trips out to places like the grocery store and Costco.

I hadn’t been to a bookstore in over a year.

So much had changed. There were many fewer books and they had moved the shelves so that people could give each other distance as they browsed. But it still felt almost normal to be there, looking for a cover or a title to grab me. I initially thought I couldn’t find anything, but then I ended up leaving with three books just for me (along with several others for my husband and kids).

As we were on our way home from getting our second shots, I started to feel hope. Or I guess more hope. The first vaccine had given me a little bit. That second vaccine gave me a bit more. I grabbed my husband’s hand in the car and said “we’re going to get through this.” But that trip to the bookstore, that slight return to normal, that gave me the most hope of all.

We have to hold on a bit longer, of course. I’m eager for the kids to be able to get their vaccines. I’m also wary of the climbing infection rates in our area, even as the number of vaccinated folks goes up. I’m still heartbroken for all that everyone has lost and angry that so much of that loss was unnecessary. I wish that people would prioritize taking care of each other. But I have a lot more hope now than I did.

So please, to anyone reading. Wear your mask properly (covering your mouth and your nose), get vaccinated when you can, and take care of those around you. I’m happy to share some of my hope if you need it.