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What Comes Next?

Should Husband and I accept an invitation for Friday night take-out pizza at our friends’ house? We were all vaccinated with our second shot two weeks ago.  My mind rambles. Will we hug?  Will we wear masks when we aren’t eating?  Will we sit across the room from each other?

            Uncertainty and hesitation loom. I’m conditioned to staying home and not being in closed spaces with anyone, except Daughter’s family who’ve been in our covid bubble, since March 2020.  Husband and I have set Zoom or FaceTime dates to visit with friends and we’ve talked while looking at a computer screen so crossing boundaries back to in-person visits makes me a bit nervous. But isn’t this type of gathering what we’ve missed most for a year? 

            After reading an article in the New York Times and written by a primary care doctor who is a mental health advocate, I’m a bit consoled.  Lucy McBride wrote, “Month after month, we have been yearning to be done with enforced distancing, social isolation and life in a more virtual reality. Now that the moment has arrived — as millions of Americans have been vaccinated and millions more will soon roll up their sleeves for it — the prospect is oddly disconcerting. Upon reentry, many of us will face something new: FONO, or a Fear Of Normal.”

            I’ve become comfortable in elastic waist pants and loose t-shirts, and I’ve been what I call ‘leisurely busy.’ I am happy reading a book, making a pot of soup, and kneading a loaf of bread.  I’m content with my fingers on a keyboard to write and to play online scrabble with friends. 

            During the coldest, dreariest days of winter I thought how fortunate that Husband and I are retired so we don’t have to go to work and we haven’t had to seek medical care.  The pandemic gave us permission to stay up late to watch television series. Six seasons of Longmire, twelve seasons of Heartland, three of Anne with an E, and forty episodes of The Crown. We’ve kept a jigsaw puzzle spread on a table and I often sat down in the middle of the day to find just a few pieces and then realized I’ve sat there until mid-afternoon.  I’ve watched more television and put together more puzzles in a year than in five years previously.  And I enjoyed it all.

            During this year at home, some people have completed big projects – like my friend who stitched ten quilts.  My only project was to organize my parents’ photographs that have been pushed aside since they’ve been mine for twenty-five years.  Someday I’ll write the stories that go with a few of these photos, but not now.

             As life returns to somewhat normal, it won’t be the same as pre-pandemic. There’s been too much turmoil, too many heartaches, too many loved ones lost.  Dr. McBride wrote, “It’s understandable to experience emotional whiplash, even as trauma recedes.”             

I need to ease into what comes next.


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