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Reflections on a Pandemic Year

It is June 7, 2021. More than 600,000 people have died of Covid-19. They were all someone’s spouse, sibling, cousin, child, friend, or neighbor.

Two weeks ago, I attended my first (virtual) funeral for a friend’s parents who both died of Covid-19. The after-funeral gathering with friends was surreal: the joy of seeing vaccinated friends outside with no masks juxtaposed with the sadness of the occasion. And in February 2021, I sent a sympathy card to a patient after the death of her mom, also a patient. This woman died at age 80 of Covid-19.

This pandemic is far from over. We will likely have surges again in the United States, especially in regions where very few are vaccinated. Globally, Covid-19 will be with us for quite some time. It is very possible that we may need booster shots annually to protect against Covid-19.

Public health is a real thing! We need to take care of each other, not just with Covid, but with the common cold, bronchitis, influenza, and other communicable diseases. The term ‘social contract’ is an agreement among people in a society to cooperate for social benefits. We agree to sacrifice some individual freedom for community protection. I wear a mask and it helps you; you wear a mask and it helps me. How difficult is that? As it turns out, very difficult, at least in the United States.

Thank you for taking care of your health during this past year. I hope I have helped many of you during the pandemic with your back and neck aches, sore arms, and overall stress. I’ve listened to your stories of gaining weight from being too sedentary and loving your tasty sourdough bread, and of your distress and disappointment from not being able to go to your fitness center. Me too!

I am reflecting on losses and lessons learned this past year. Are you? Please appreciate your health. Do you have a deeper appreciation of it now? Do you have deeper appreciation of your friendships and neighborhood businesses? With time (and vaccines), we may gradually release the iron grip of fear, grief, and isolation and find love, joy, and touch again.