Almost a year has passed since COVID-19 shut down the world, sent our economy into crisis, and placed our children in front of computers instead of loving teachers.
Most of us know someone who has passed away from COVID-19 or has had to watch an elderly relative spend their last days in isolation. We are all tired. We want to get things back to normal.
Many people know me as an attorney who ran for Attorney General in 2018. But before I went to law school, I studied to be a nurse and I remain a registered nurse to this day. Wanting to do my part to help address the pandemic, I have been volunteering with the Northeast CT Medical Reserve Corps as they have mobilized to dispense the COVID-19 vaccine.
When I studied nursing in college almost three decades ago, I never anticipated being on the forefront of healthcare history. I can tell you that this experience has reintroduced me to my motivations for becoming a nurse, and rekindled my optimism. And I am immensely grateful for both.
It is inspiring to see first-hand how science, combined with caring and compassion, can breathe new life into our communities and society.
The “fog” is beginning to lift. In the Quinebaug Valley Senior Center in Brooklyn, you see optimism, joy, and relief in the eyes of local residents who know that their lives will soon be returning to normal.
Without question, this pandemic has been especially hard on our elderly. Spouses have been separated from one another in nursing homes, holidays have been spent in isolation, and too many of their friends have been lost to this illness. With that backdrop, I can tell you that being there to share in their joy of receiving the vaccination is transcendent.
They talk, with hope and gratitude, about being able to protect their frail spouses at home and about hugging their grandchildren. And they are ecstatic.
As long as I live, I will never forget one woman saying “I’m so happy I could cry.”
It’s uplifting — really uplifting – to be surrounded by so many nurses and volunteers who share laughs, hopes, and dreams with those who come through the clinic doors. To be part of that is nothing short of a privilege.
This pandemic has resulted in loss and human suffering that is difficult to fully grasp and quantify. Schoolchildren will be learning about this chapter in human history well into the future. But I think that there may be an element to all of this that is just now starting to come into focus and I hope will be part of the storyboard.
I am certain that the history books will speak of how, in the late winter and early spring of 2021, when the world finally began to arrest the scourge known as COVID-19 a warmer, kinder, and more compassionate world began to emerge. A renewed sense of community started to take hold, born of gratitude for the real and meaningful things in life: love, family, and neighbors.
Indeed, after a year or more of our words being muffled and our smiles being concealed behind fabric masks, I am optimistic that sometime in the coming months the masks will begin to be removed. When that happens, I am hopeful that the words we hear (and “post”) will be kinder, conveying more empathy, concern for others, and thoughtfulness.
And just as important, those resulting smiles that we hadn’t seen in so long will be appreciated more than ever.
The fog is indeed lifting, due largely to the efforts of our front line workers. I encourage you to get your shot when your turn comes. And let’s emerge as a more grounded society, with abundant smiles for one another, on the other side.
Sue Hatfield, of Pomfret, Connecticut, was the 2018 Republican nominee for Attorney General in Connecticut and is Vice Chair of the Connecticut Republican Party.