One year ago this week COVID-19 altered our world

Published 8:47 am Friday, March 12, 2021


Community columnist

Just one year ago I was cruising along in my little world. There were three major projects on my plate set to launch within just days of each other in the coming weeks. I congratulated myself that, while not completed, all were within an inch of the finish line.

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The months and months of coordinating details and scheduling every minute of my work and family life were about to pay off.

Bright and early on Monday morning of this very week one year ago, I made an unnecessary phone call to a business associate. Unnecessary because he always completes the task in question promptly without any reminder from me.  I still call because I enjoy talking with him periodically.

He is a funny guy. He spends a good part of his life on a boat. The professional service he has created is his second career, he sort of considers himself to be semi-retired, I think. His business is completely on-line. He endears himself to me because no matter where he is, his answering machine will find him within seconds. On our first project, he panicked because I was out of range and he couldn’t make sure I was OK to launch the on-line function I needed.

He lives in New York. Early on Monday morning this week one year ago, he had a lot to say. For me, it was the dawning of understanding of just what might be coming to my little world.

We had our usual jovial conversation, but lurking in the background was the hint that I had some thinking to do.

By Wednesday of this week one year ago, the proverbial hand writing was on the wall. At least as we comprehended it at that time. Wheels most of us never imagined were put in motion. Decisions were made and the dominos began to fall.

On Friday morning, it took me less than two hours to undo every detail of every project I had been laboring over for months.

After the last email was sent and every phone call was completed, I sat at my desk and surveyed the calendar and work sheets and files. Surely, there was something I could do. And, there wasn’t. It was to get worse, and worse, in oh, so many ways.

For me and my family and closest friends, this trying and frustrating year was nothing compared to the terrible loss experienced by so many others. We went through several stages.

First, there was the nearly comical routine of acquiring essential supplies. I look back on that period and it seems so silly. We knew so little. Try this, go there, call them. Really, we needed very little to take care of our needs, now that I think about it.

After a while, there was a glimmer of hope. We actually gathered during the summer months in little family pods outside. Our youngest child bought her first home and moved. Our granddaughter made her First Communion. We all wore masks and sat in isolated chairs, but we did it.

In retrospect, I can’t quite identify the exact point when it all seemed to be real and not some sort of play acting. Perhaps it was in the early fall when the numbers were persistently holding steady at an alarming level, people we knew were getting very sick, and dying.

People were becoming angry and defiant all around us. In hind sight, we weren’t anywhere near the end. In fact, just the opposite.

It wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet. I foolishly prided myself that I had really managed just fine through all the months. But, one day I literally yelled at a tech support person on the phone because multiple attempts to solve my computer problem had failed.

I couldn’t even apologize to him, because unlike my buddy in New York on the boat, you can’t reach the same person two times in a row in the big automated world. And, I hadn’t made note of his ID number before I lost my cool.

At times, I have tried to see the funnier side of the picture. I am constantly losing, forgetting, dropping my masks. I have had to turn around and walk back home multiple times. I have dropped one on the street and had to retrace my steps more than once. I have taken to hanging one on the rearview mirror like a modern-day pair of fuzzy dice, just in case.

Maybe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve begun to wonder what will we do differently in just the next few months. Will we make different decisions as a community, or will change be determined on more personal levels? Will our personal choices be altered because of the behavior of others? How will that dynamic settle into the workings of personal and broader relationships?

It was this week one year ago. Perhaps, we are turning the corner, finally. But, at what cost?

If we don’t learn from this year, we have lost much more than we perhaps can afford, or even bear, for way more than one year.