It was Sunday morning and there I stood, for the first time in more than a year, in an enclosed space, surrounded by strangers... and not one of them was wearing a mask. And it didn’t bother me in the slightest.
You see, my son’s birthday is in November, but considering that no responsible human was mingling just a half-year ago, we postponed his birthday party and organized a gathering at a miniature golf course in the Springs. He invited about a dozen friends, and with them came parents. I don’t know how many are vaccinated, but I am, and so are my parents, who were present, and so is my wife.
It's funny how even the littlest things stood out, like not having to remember to bring a mask or scrambling to find it every time I went inside. I could see the expressions on people’s faces, expressions that extended beyond the look in their eyes.
And, God forgive me — I shook hands! Like, three times... with three different people!
It was exhilarating — the first time in a long time things did feel “normal,” almost like waking from a long and scary dream, the bad stuff burned away by the morning sun.
Often a pessimist, I still can’t help but feel like we really have begun to turn the corner on this pandemic — at least for now.
But, as we begin to paint a clearer picture of the last year and a half, I’m also seeing studies pointing to much higher death tolls and infection rates than official numbers indicate. The New York Times reported just yesterday that the worst-case scenario in India would mean more than 4 million deaths in that country alone. That’s more than Johns Hopkins University reports for total global deaths.
It will be years, perhaps even generations, before we can begin to understand the devastation this pandemic has wrought on families, communities, states, countries, the globe. We may never fully understand it.
But this Sunday morning, the rain stayed away until we were ready to pack it in, kids were rubbing shoulders, running and laughing, parents were talking, unmasked, and breaking bread.
It was a new day — the scary dream seemed it might just be over after all.
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