We are done. I have other friends. I no longer want to see you.
So we have all been doing this pandemic thing for over a year now and I’m sure my experience is not much different from anyone else. But here’s my dam release of a year’s worth of emotion.
Recently, on a bright spring day, my wife and I drove across the highway a couple miles to see friends. It was to be a short visit; we even gave our dog Annie free reign of the house while we were gone.
We couldn’t visit on the porch because of some yardwork being done so we moved inside. An hour and a half later we emerged at which time it then took another thirty minutes to say goodbye in the yard. These were people we’ve shared meals with at each other’s houses. People we love dearly. And these two hours were the first significant time spent with them in over a year. I severely dislike you COVID.
As we drove away, Jenni remarked that we had just spent two hours there. I joked that it’s not so bad if you average that over twelve months. But it made me angry inside, as if I had been cheated in some way. And it’s not just the conversations with friends. It’s the funerals we missed, the weddings that were delayed and then held under cautious conditions, the babies we couldn’t hold, and the songs we haven’t sung together.
And then I remind myself: what good is it to cry over spilt margaritas? (I think that’s how it goes.) And I think of the wise words of Rafiki, the baboon in the Lion King. Rafiki hits Simba on the head with a stick. Simba asks “What was that for” and Rafiki says “It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past” and Simba reminds Rafiki that it still hurt. Rafiki answers Simba wisely, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”
Not wanting to waste this painful learning experience, what HAVE I learned?
For starters, I now know about Zoom calls, Face Timing, and recently did a video chat on Instagram that was quite fun. I learned how to make a cargo van a self-contained camper and picked up some electrical and plumbing skills along the way. I learned how to say goodbye to love ones in a different manner, first telling my Dad goodbye over FaceTime and then watching his funeral via Facebook Live, and I remembered to appreciate those still with us in a greater way. Attending worship in my pajamas became quite enjoyable (but I missed the lunches with our kids afterward). I returned to my love of writing. I am sure that with a little self-examination and reflection the list could be quite lengthy.
Sitting in the wine department of our local grocer this week, we received our second vaccine shot. (We also snagged a few bottles of sangria at a great price.) In a few days we will have as much protection from this virus as we’re probably going to get and we will emerge from our COVID cocoon ready to explore the world more confidently. I’m ready for the world to catch up with us now. If you haven’t been vaccinated, I urge you to do so—for yourself, your loved ones, me, and complete strangers.
So, my dear COVID, you’ve overstayed your visit. It’s time to say goodbye.