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‘Eye opening’: Agassiz-Harrison residents see joy, healing and uncertainty in future amid COVID-19

Many look forward to shopping, the great outdoors and time with family as restrictions ease

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift, the notion of the pandemic’s first wave dying down is on the minds of British Columbians across the province.

The Observer recently asked readers what they were looking forward to as cautious optimism for the future emerges. There were 48 responses in total.

Most people expressed the need for physical affection, wanting to reconnect with their loved ones that until recently have been largely taken for granted.

“I just want to hug my dad,” Lorraine Banks said. He is 80, so I have been trying to keep him safe, but I miss his hugs.”

“I’d go and hug all of my B.C. grandkids, then travel to Ontario and Holland to hug the rest of them!” Judy Den Hertog said.

RELATED: Harrison Mayor: Roads, boat launch will reopen on May 15

“My eldest grandson Jordan has Down Syndrome and he lives for hugs, so it’s especially hard for him,” Mary Jeffers wrote.

“I can’t wait to hug my nephews. They don’t get it. When I drop off groceries, they try to run towards me. As soon as their mom or dad stops them, their eyes fill up with tears,” Amanda Moule wrote. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Cathie Winston wants to embrace her grandchildren, too, as well as a haircut.

“I’ve learned what I can live without,” she wrote. “It’s been eye-opening.”

Ingrid Sikkel found herself looking at her family in a whole new way.

“I enjoy the fact that it has made me appreciate my family more,” she wrote. “Not because absense makes the heart grow fonder, but because they were son nice to their mom who lives on her own.”

Outdoor recreation, concerts, auto racing at the Agassiz Speedway and visiting relatives were high priorities on many post-pandemic wish lists.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

“I coach the Pirates Dragon Boat team in Harrison Hot Springs, and we are all missing not being on the water,” said Scott Farrell. “The workouts, the friendships, the laughing and the cursing. It is something our team has done twice weekly for over 15 years.”

Some readers made light of relieving themselves of their isolation blues. Kelly LaCroix said he would “go to the bar to cut down on my drinking.”

“I just want to go touch things I can’t afford and buy things i don’t need,” Jennifer Ess said with a laugh. “Then touch my face afterwards!”

While most readers looked forward to life ahead, some face uncertainty amid anti-Asian racism and attacks because of the pandemic.

“I’m a Filipino married to a Canadian; I’m really scared to get out,” one reader wrote. “I heard from TV news how many Asians are attacked by local people. I’m really scared.”

As the medical system transitions into adding more surgeries to their agendas, James Zaoral vented his frustration at cancelled surgeries and pain-relieving procedures.

“[Thousands] of us have been waiting in various states of debilitating disrepair because our surgeries were abruptly canceled and deemed unimportant,” he wrote. “All I need is a simple day surgery to end my pain and discomfort before I can return to work. God knows with my last name where I’ll end up. I still haven’t heard from my surgeon’s office.”

Other readers have found better spiritual clarity as the world waits for a cure.

“This just brings home the fact that we are in control of nothing,” wrote Heather Cormack. “God is the only one in control here. We better start opening our eyes and ears to what the message is.”

While many aspects of the local economy will take years to recover – if they ever do at all – the fact that some readers turned their focus to their own indicates small businesses could be on their way up soon.

“There’s lots I look forward to going back to, but something I want to continue doing is shopping locally and staying out of the big box stores,” said Dawn Keepence. “Focusing on becoming self-sufficient and only buying from local small businesses is my ultimate goal.”

As B.C. looks on to a very different-looking future shaped by a virus, it’s clear that hope and resilience persist as we all take it one day at a time.

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