Have you ever planned a special occasion event – like a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or a major anniversary party – that was originally so far in the future that it felt like it would never get here? It sometimes felt as though the planning would go on forever, and then, when the event finally took place, it felt almost surreal. And afterwards, it felt a bit strange to get back to “normal” without having the event to look forward to, or more tasks and chores to do to prepare for it.

That’s how I felt a few days ago, right after booking our appointments to get the COVID vaccine.

My husband and I are in the “65 and over” age bracket that had just been okayed to get the vaccine, so as soon as the public health office opened, he started calling. After dialing and redialing for a full two hours, then finally connecting and waiting behind a queue of 20 other people, he got through, and secured our appointments. When he got off the phone, we just stared at each other for a moment in disbelief. And then we cheered.

We realize the vaccine isn’t a magic bullet, that it won’t be effective immediately, that we’ll need a second shot, and that we’ll still have to be cautious for quite a while. But we also know we’ll soon be able to start doing – or at least think about doing – some of the wonderfully normal things we’ve been unable to do for a long time.

I’m imagining our first sit-down dinner – and what a celebration dinner that will be! – at a restaurant when we don’t have to worry or wonder about the people around us and whether they may  be asymptomatic, but still contagious. I’m dreaming about that first hug with our kids and other loved ones, after going more than a year without seeing them in person. And I’m envisioning get-togethers with friends and neighbors – for special occasions, or for no occasion at all.

More than anything, I’m excited at the thought of visits with our two grandchildren in Minnesota. Today is our granddaughter’s second birthday, and it breaks my heart not to be there celebrating the day with her. It breaks my heart even more that we haven’t even met her baby brother, who was born in July during the middle of the pandemic. We’re already starting to plan for our first trip to see them, and I’m going wild thinking about – in the years to come – making up for the lost time with them the coronavirus has cost us.

We’ll probably be making a few other changes in our lives when this is all over, such as using up our travel and restaurant rewards points instead of saving them for later. And we’ll likely continue some of the practices we developed during the pandemic, such as enjoying Zoom calls with the people we’re not able to see in person on a regular basis.

Even though It will be a while yet before things are back to normal, or whatever the new normal will eventually look like, having an appointment for the vaccine feels like a true ray of sunshine. The light at the end of the tunnel. The silver lining in a very dark cloud.

And a real shot in the arm.

January 15, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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