Social Distancing Week 48…Peeking Over the Pandemic Wall

Friday, February 12, 2021…1:13pm

The end of week 48.

It was just about this time last year when I started realizing that the “new virus” was going to at some point move from being a news story to being a reality that would impact our lives. Hindsight shows that I vastly underestimated the extent and longevity of that impact, but we did at least have the benefit of entering life in pandemic times with some preparation in terms of tangible things. Food, medicine, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes – we had all of that on hand in slightly larger than normal quantities and have (luckily) never been in a position where it felt like any of those things were in short supply.

This week I’ve realized that no matter how well I thought we had prepared for the day the virus became problematic in our area, there were always going to be the intangibles and unknowns for which we could not prepare. Because we do not ever know what we do not know, there was never going to be a way to “stockpile” enough of the intangible things that are arguably as important as food, medicine, toilet paper, etc. Things like patience, grace, humor, compromise, empathy and creativity – all things that are important all of the time, but have become more important with every passing week of life in COVID times, and yet have become increasingly challenging to find within as we near the one year mark.

We could not prepare for being in this space, we could not prepare for the duration or the lengthy emotional wear and tear, and we can’t quite prepare for the future that lies on the other side of the pandemic wall because it’s still too early to know what the future looks like and when we will get there. That’s a problematic and frustrating truth, but I do believe it to be a truth.

That “pandemic wall” is real and so is the “echo pandemic” looming on the other side of that pandemic wall. Echo pandemic is the term being used in describe the very real possibility of widespread mental health issues rooted in the challenges of pandemic-era life that will resemble COVID-19 in scale as a public health crisis. I don’t have to attempt a crystal ball look at my family life post-pandemic to know with certainty the echo pandemic is real and is coming to our home. It’s already here. I can see and feel the emotional and mental strain on both of my kids – one of whom was already living with chronic mental illness. In an upside down sort of way I am thankful that we are already more prepared than some families, as conversations about mental health care and a team of wonderful mental health professionals have been part of our daily existence for several years. (Yay us? )

There are days when the absolute last thing I want to spend my limited mental energy on is peeking over the pandemic wall to catch a glimpse of what might be. But if I want a real chance to be better prepared for life post COVID-19 than we were for life during COVID-19, I have to keep walking right up to that pandemic wall and risking both the heartbreak and the hope that might be seen on the other side.

Be well my friends.

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