How Far We've Come

I no longer feel like I'm staring down a dark tunnel with no visible light.

watercolor light at the end of a dark path
Image created via Midjourney

On this day two years ago, we were increasingly concerned about Covid-19. Large organizations were beginning to shut down. Certain cities had become hotspots, with hospitals quickly filling. I was supposed to attend a book event that week and it was canceled.

On March 12th, 2020, Ger and I made a huge trip to the grocery store. We had no idea what a lockdown could look like. Would we be able to leave the house? How long might we be stuck at home? We saw the writing on the wall and pre-emptively kept our kids home from school the next day.

On March 13th, 2020, Illinois announced its shutdown measures. Schools closed. Most businesses, other than essential services, closed. The message was, “Stay home. Flatten the curve.” We did our part.

Those were the days of sanitizing groceries because we didn’t fully understand that the virus was airborne. We “exercised” in the backyard, walking laps from one side to the other. We tried to keep ourselves entertained with virtual tours of museums, Facetime with friends, and other at-home activities.

That was interesting for a few weeks. Then boredom and isolation settled in. The quick pivot to remote learning meant that school was very unstructured. Since Ger and I had to work (and juggle a 3-year-old) during the day, the two older kids were mostly unsupervised. They viewed homework and attending Zooms as optional. Not quite sure what was going on in their rooms, but it had little to do with learning.

I felt like a failure as a parent. We were on our own.

By the same time in 2021, vaccines were a reality. Ger and I got our first doses. Four out of five people in this house are now fully vaccinated, save for the one that is too young.

Yet as we emerge from this pandemic, with restrictions lifted, vaccine rates relatively high in our area, and personal risk fairly low, it’s hard to un-learn what we’ve gone through over the past two years.

Autumn is four-and-a-half. She doesn’t even remember a time when she didn’t have to wear a mask when she leaves the house.

When I see maskless people in indoor settings (now allowed in our state) I wonder… are these people who are enjoying their freedom? Or are they people that refused to wear masks all along, contributing to the increased burden on the rest of us?

Crowds make me nervous. I’ve never liked crowds; I like them even less now.

My circle is smaller. People fell away for various reasons… For some, the distance contributed to a fracturing of the relationship. Others were dealing with their own pandemic-related struggles and needed to take a step back. I cut ties with several who contributed to misinformation about the pandemic. In addition to the grief of losing so many people across the country, there was personal hurt when relationships suffered.

Yet other relationships grew stronger. We supported each other. We mutually acknowledged that “This totally sucks, but I’m here with you.”

Peripherally related, I changed careers. That can fall into the category of a “good thing” that came out of the pandemic because I’ve never been happier with the work that I’m doing.

So what’s next? What does the summer of 2022 look like? What does the next school year look like?

I don’t know. But it’s far less anxiety-inducing than the past two years have been. I no longer feel like I’m staring down a dark tunnel with no visible light.