Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Superficially Glad

When I was very young, I was the only one in my family who hadn’t succumbed to the stomach flu. That’s right, the vomiting kind. I was holding my breath as much as I could because I’d been invited to join my girlfriend’s family for an outing at the ice skating rink, and I wanted to go very badly. Mom said as long as I wasn’t sick, I had her permission. Time slowed and then slowed again. I watched the clock. Tick. Silence. Silence. Silence. Tick. Silence. Silence. Silence. And then, only an hour before I was to be set free, I got sick. The end. I cried quietly as I vomited. Time to cancel. If I had been paying more attention to the principles of contagion and been a better friend, I would’ve cancelled long before. But I wanted to skate with my classmates SO BADLY. I wanted to bend time and biology to my command. Mom told me I could be glad I wasn’t going and wouldn’t infect anybody. Secretly, I didn’t care, but superficially, I was relieved. Only superficially.

I can’t blame the people who don’t want to wear masks again. I don’t either. I depend on my smile to introduce me, to greet friends and strangers, to light my path. I depend on hugs to connect me with the rest of humanity in a real, solid way. I relish lunches out—especially when my husband and I indulge in tastes we can’t or don’t recreate at home. For me, lunches out aren’t merely a change of diet; they provide mini-vacations from the norm, opportunities to catch up face-to-face with friends. Likewise, who doesn’t like to pick out their own produce or clothes or gifts for dear ones? The huge shut-down/lock-outs when COVID-19 was new were almost physically painful. They were certainly emotionally painful. We weren’t meant to live in solitary confinement. Millions flirted with depression. Others defied medical advice and pretended they were invulnerable. They told themselves only fools would fall ill and dug out opinions that agreed with them. Intellectually indefensible bravado seemed to be working elsewhere at the time. Why not with disease? Compromised people would’ve died, anyway, wouldn’t they? I, who had recently scorned flu vaccines without reprisal, was among the first to line up to receive the COVID protections invented by frantic science. Enough is enough.

When our vaccinations allowed many of us to be justifiably free from restraint, we were ecstatic. What were shots and a couple days of headaches next to leaving incarceration? No Olympic gold medal could’ve been more welcome. I rejoiced in the world beyond my front door. And then the variants hit—currently the Delta Variant.

Now we know that although we who are double vaccinated can be fairly certain we won’t be among the dangerously ill, we can still be carriers. (Carrier: a word that recalls the curse of TYPHOID MARY.) Death statistics provide the evidence scoffers wanted to prove that those who avoid being vaccinated are at highest risk of fatality—including their children. But this time the vaccinated remain in the picture, as well. The vaccine that protects our lungs permits virus to party in our noses, ready to skateboard out on our exhalations to infect those with weak or no defenses. I want SO BADLY to be free to live as I did before COVID meant anything to me. As before, no one can tell us with certainty when or if we will ever feel free again, whether some new mutation will bring fresh worries. But for the moment, we can discourage that danged little virus by barring it from places where it can flourish—our noses—and prevent it from rushing out to infect people we encounter (those would be the unvaccinated). I’ve purchased new masks and I’ll wear one when necessary. I’m glad I have something I can do to help…even if I’m only superficially glad.

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