Who knows when life will go back to normal. Or even what normal is. Is there such a thing as normal? It’s not like a blizzard, which causes everything to stop for a while. At some point, the blizzard ends, the National Guard comes to remove the snow, and all goes on as it has before. This is more open ended so we have to wait, although we have become impatient and frustrated.
This pandemic has resulted in the deaths of more than 270,000 persons worldwide. My mind has trouble grasping such big numbers, so I break it down to one and then another and then another. Each one with a family and friends who grieve that heartbreaking loss. Each one a person with talents and gifts that are lost to the world forever. The lost range in age from babies to the elderly. According to Al Jazeera, there have been up to 3.8 million cases worldwide, and 1.3 million have recovered. In the United States, there have been 1.25 million cases, with 75,500 deaths.
Lots of people. Mind boggling. So I break it down, as we all have to do. To not see the dead and the ill as numbers but as people. Individuals. People I know. People you know. Friends, family, neighbors. I remember the father of a friend. Sweet gentleman, named Louie. Oftentimes, he was out walking his dog, and the dog would pull to the road to greet me. Most of the time, I was on the opposite side of the road. I always made time to stop and see the dog and its human. Sometimes, Louie was in his car. If he spotted me walking down the road, he always stopped and said, “Alice, get in the car!”
It is hard to believe that I will never again see Louie driving around or walking his dog.
I think about the supervisor of the Town of Tonawanda. I met him when I was writing articles about Tonawanda Coke, which had spewed dangerous chemicals from its smokestacks during the cokemaking process. People were getting sick, and it was discovered that numerous environmental laws and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations had been broken. Tonawanda Coke is now closed.
But anyway. Joe Emminger is the supervisor of the Town of Tonawanda. He has written extensively on Facebook about his battle with COVID-19. His story is followed by the local media. He tested positive for the virus a month ago, when he started showing symptoms. Just when he thought that he was getting better, he suffered a setback. He battled pneumonia for a few weeks. He emerged from his sickbed with an attitude of gratitude for the people who took care of him and nursed him back to health. But today, he took another COVID-19 test and found that the virus is still in him. I hope that he recovers quickly, without another setback.
Joe reminds us to stay safe and to take the necessary precautions, such as wearing a mask in public places. Joe reminds us to be patient with the change in our lives, for the difficulty that we experience because of the shutdown.
A few days ago, I was out walking. It was a relatively warm, but windy, day. It wasn’t snowing like it did today. I had some places to visit and, once I went inside, I was fashionably attired in a mask, hand santizer in my pocket, ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
On my walk, I had rocks in my pocket. Painted rocks to place in hiding places. So that people could find the rocks. The thing with painted rocks is that people can place a rock anywhere, with the intention that someone else will find it.
If you find a rock,you can leave the rock where you found it or you could move to rock. At the third place where I left a rock, I found three small painted rocks.
I left two of them in place and took the third one. At my last stop, I left my last rock and I left the rock that I had found.
Painting rocks or pretty much anything else is a great distraction from the sadness of illness and loss.
The rocks are gifts for anyone to find. They are little love notes at a time full of sadness and sorrow.
We hope for an end to the pandemic so we can grieve the losses. We have to wait for memorial services because we cannot gather in groups.
And so spring is more needed this year than ever.
Spring offers the promise of new life, something that we desperately need again. We want to emerge from the pandemic, newly restored, full of sparkle and creativity and love. Balancing our sorrows with joys.