Last Wednesday afternoon, I suddenly became a member of the COVID-19 in-crowd.
After just over two years of listening to medical statistics, watching Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Peter Juni and Dr. Anthony Fauci talking about COVID variants and hot spots and hospital overcrowdings and medical personnel burnout, my rapid test came back positive.
Not without warning, mind you, as I had been feeling off for a couple of days, with an upset stomach, a persistent runny nose, and a rather harsh and repetitive cough.
Still, after I was able to remember that in medical parlance the word positive indicates a negative situation, I said to myself, “This is real, and I must be a good boy and carefully follow every instruction.”
As a person who naturally enjoys being out and about, interacting with my fellow Niagarans, being confined to quarters got old within a day or two.
The awful news from around the world, the polarizing, negative tone of our provincial, national and world politics, and the non-stop bluster about how great the Leafs are all made watching television a rather trying and forced exercise.
Although the weather was perfect, after two days of chilly, drizzly and grey weather, the clouds seemed to be floating a bit lower.
Then, I looked out the front window, and up and down the street so many neighbours were out raking their lawns. Every dead leaf was being gathered, every twig picked up, tall brown bags were filled and placed neatly by the curbs.
People leaned on their rakes, congratulating themselves on jobs well done, flashing a subtle thumbs-up to each other. And it’s still early April.
Telephone calls from good friends and a concerned daughter and son reminded me the world is a good place in which to be living, but Tom Jones’s long ago lyrics repeated, “Then I awake, and look around me, at four grey walls that surround me …”
And I am on short-term isolation! Hopefully only five days. So many travellers have had to be alone for 14 days. Some long-term care residents have been isolated for months.
If there ever was a doubt, not now. This ongoing global deadly pandemic is a big deal. The physical challenges are immense, but the mental and social costs are unfathomable.
Most people need people in their lives. Yes, students learn math and geography and English, but they also need to learn “people.”
I am of an age that makes it impossible to imagine attending school online. More power to the teachers and students of today for somehow getting through these past two years. How do you do it?
Not to personalize these ramblings, but let me reflect on how much I miss Aisle 4 and the cashiers at Hendriks Independent Grocer (doesn’t quite roll off the tongue yet, does it?)
The brief chitchats, the masked smiles, the NOTLers and the visitors to our town. Yes, I need Honey Nut Cheerios and 2 per cent homogenized milk and cinnamon raisin bread. But above all, I need people.
In no way am I whining or complaining. Just saying out loud, “Isolation is lonely.” Seems rather obvious, eh?
Please know I am thinking about my fellows, as we weather this challenge. It’s been a weird and long and challenging period of our lives – and it is ongoing.
Let’s keep our seatbelts fastened and think about each other more than ourselves.
To ramble to a conclusion, may I say that there have always been challenges, horrible events, miserable situations and atrocities throughout world history. But now, with the internet, television and, for many people, social media, everything is in our face, all day, every day.
Keep yer sticks on the ice, eh? We will be back, stronger and having more fun than before.
Be positive (thinking, not diagnostically).