The email came in the morning of May 13. It was time.
My wife booked the two of us to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Chilliwack. As I write this, I’m only a few days away from a little jab and the first steps of a post-pandemic life.
COVID-19 is so infused in our lives at this point that I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time I uttered or typed the words “post-pandemic,” but I’ll admit, it does feel pretty good. Try it. I’ll wait.
See? I told you.
I’m sitting at my desk at The Observer, the same one at which I sat when the pandemic was first declared. My professional life was going through some difficult but necessary changes, and I recall being outside on a sunny March day, pacing back and forth while on the phone with my wife, explaining what I expected to come as we both tried to process what was happening.
I’d returned to journalism roughly two months prior to COVID-19, and I had no idea what was in store. None of us did.
As the weeks rolled by, we all adapted to our new lives, whether that meant working from home or seeking a new career altogether or working on our projects to wait out the storm and keep the magnitude of what was happening from overrunning us.
There were dark days. There were plenty of days where it was all we could do to get out of bed and clean part of a room of the house. Our shelters that kept us safe from the elements at times felt like a box closing in us, manifesting our trapped minds. Some of us succumbed to doom-scrolling, or reading every bit of pandemic news we could until all we could feel was despair. Some of us fell down rabbit holes of disinformation and conspiracy. Some of us lost loved ones, our mental health – everything.
Standing against the darkness, though, were the bright moments. There was the mysterious “sugar fairy” who delivered baking supplies to a local woman with a lung condition. A Fraser Valley Elvis impersonator – who if I didn’t know better I could swear was the real McCoy – serenaded a 90-year-old woman, making her birthday one none of us will ever forget. Though there aren’t as many as there used to be, there are still locals like country artist Todd Richard and bugler Jack Knight making noise at 7 p.m. to pay tribute to and cheer for workers on the pandemic frontlines.
COVID-19 forced itself upon our lives and shook the world to its core. In the middle of it all, it felt like the pandemic days would drag on forever and we would be stuck in a frantic cycle of bending curves back down until judgement day and trumpets sound. I never dreamed I’d live through to see such a pandemic claim our lives in so many ways, and I never thought I’d see the day it could come to an end.
Yet, like so many thousands of others already across the province and across Canada, here I sit. I double checked it. Yes, that email was for me. Yes, my appointment is confirmed. And yes, I am ready to receive whatever vaccine the Good Lord provides.
There will come a day again when we can all get back together safely, not having to wear masks anymore or make sure there are two metres between every chair. We’ll be able to go back to festivals, concerts, sports games. We’ll be able to worship with each other, in person, again. We’ll have back the niceties of life that before the pandemic we all took for granted and live a restored and a hopefully more grateful life.
I don’t fully know what’s ahead or the various emotional, mental and physical hurdles we’ll have to overcome as we return to a semblance of normal. All I can really say for sure is if you stop to think about it, there really is a lot to look forward to.
But for now, we wait.