Hope Rolling Down the Highway
I tend to be fairly predictable, an enneagram 9 who typically stays calm and is good at thinking on my feet. I take in all the information, scrolling and reading, tucking bits and pieces away for later. Sometimes I taste the way different scenarios feel on my tongue when I say them out loud, but rarely do I truly panic (exceptions to this rule include large spiders and times I’ve been experiencing any hormones related to pregnancy). I’m generally pretty good at rolling with what happens and pivoting if needed. If I’d ever dreamed that I would live through a global pandemic as a mom of three young children, I think dream-me would have been fairly consistent with real-life-living-through-a-pandemic-me.
When it seemed like schools would shut down I stocked up on library books and craft supplies. I was worried about what the fact that schools were closing meant but I wasn’t worried about entertaining my kids. I actually felt a sense of relief that we could just slow down for a little bit. A nice pause, I thought.
As more things were cancelled, I felt sad, but not panicked. When grocery orders were constantly out of stock, we improvised with our meal plan. As the pandemic kept going, I grieved the loss of things we had been hoping for, but we made the best of it. When I needed an escape, I turned to my lifelong friend, reading. When it felt like we were trapped in an endless cycle of the same day over and over again, I did the only thing I knew how to do: put one foot in front of the other, keep going, dream up some way to try and make this day or that special and different. When it became clear that we would be embarking on a virtual school year, I put together a color-coded schedule and stocked up on supplies, and then when it didn’t quite work like I anticipated, we made some changes and kept going.
Throughout the pandemic, there have been plenty of emotions. There have, of course, been days of restlessness, sadness, frustration, feeling trapped, but overall we’ve adjusted, settled into this new rhythm. There have been long days of reveling in a slower pace, enjoying having nothing to do and nowhere to be, hours of observing backyard adventures, plenty of happy memories made. There have been times that a news article has brought tears to my eyes, that my voice has wavered and cracked when trying to tell my husband something, times I’ve had to take a deep breath, start over, before explaining something to my children. Flashes of strong emotion, here and there, before returning to my normal steady demeanor.
But then, I saw a video.
It was mid-December and I picked up my phone, scrolling for the latest news. The first vaccine had been approved and I was anxious for good news after so many months of staying home. I anticipated a mild sense of relief, knowing that finally, we were heading in the right direction, but the danger wasn’t over yet.
I clicked play on a video of the trucks leaving the Pfizer plant with the first round of vaccines and I immediately began sobbing. My children looked at me in confusion as I tried to find my voice, to tell them that the tears I was crying were tears of relief, that I was crying over eighteen wheelers carrying the key to begin our return to normal life.
I expected to be glad when I saw the news. I didn’t expect to feel as though I had come across a cool stream after wandering through the desert, exhausted and delirious, desperate for relief.
I know the vaccine isn’t the answer to all our problems, that it won’t solve everything, and certainly not overnight. I know we still have a long way to go, but until that moment, watching hope roll down the highway, I didn’t realize how desperately I needed a visual reminder that the pandemic will not last forever.