Silver Linings in the Twilight Zone

The Community Chronicle, November 2020

It’s that time of year, time to be grateful. Only this year that’s kind of difficult given the kind of year 2020 turned out to be. It’s not just me bemoaning the misery of this past year. Most everyone I know is ready to pack it away. There are people in my neighborhood who put up their Christmas lights the beginning of October because they just wanted to be done with it and move onto something more cheerful. One of my neighbors is putting up her Christmas tree this weekend. Others have told me they plan to stay up late on New Year’s Eve not to welcome in 2021, but to escort 2020 out the door. Given all that’s happened so far this year it’s understandable. And as I write this on Halloween, before what is probably the most important election of our lives, I don’t even know how much worse or better it’s going to get.

Given all that, there have been silver linings. For example, yes, we’ve been hit hard by Covid-19. Thousands have become sick and over 200,000 have died in the U.S. Others have lost their jobs, lost their businesses, and suffered immeasurable disruption in their daily lives. Parents have had to learn how to home school their kids and discovered it’s not as easy as it looks. Hard as it’s been on parents and kids alike, it’s also been an incomparable time of togetherness, one that families will remember for years to come. Though indeed there have been many negatives this year; there have also been countless positives, silver linings that cannot be overlooked.

Yes, many became sick and died. However, multitudes recovered and lived. The rate of recovery lies between 97% and 99.75%. I believe that has largely to do with treatments and the heroic efforts of the front-line workers – the healthcare professionals who show up at hospitals and clinics every day to care for the sick, even though they put their own health at risk and the health of their families should they become ill. EMS workers continue to staff the ambulances because if someone is in need, they are going to answer the call. I live across the street from an ER nurse who has never thought twice about going to work. Nor has my friend who is a supervisor with the town’s EMS service. It’s never occurred to either of them not to go to work. It’s what they do – they help people.

Dealing with the virus, the anxiety of catching it, and the subsequent quarantine, or as many people call it -- “the lockdown,” -- has been bad enough, but then came the protests and the riots, striking fear in everyone. I keep shaking my head and wondering -- what has happened to our country, to the peaceful world that we once knew? When did wrong become right and right become wrong? And why do so many politicians think that’s okay? What sane person thinks that’s a fine way to live? Indeed, it’s tough to find a silver lining when the world seems more like an episode of the Twilight Zone than our real lives. Look carefully, they are there.     

For example, one of the biggest silver linings I’ve observed is how Texans (and people all over the country) stepped up to help others by making cloth masks when medical masks came into short supply early in the pandemic. In the beginning, it was just a handful of people here and there who took to their sewing machines, but before long everyone who could sew answered the call by sewing day and night, while others offered patterns and tips on how to make the masks. Online tutorials popped up and calls from organizations needing the masks posted everywhere. If you knew how to sew it was your patriotic duty to go through your fabric stash and start sewing. I made more than I can recall. I have friends who sewed not just dozens but hundreds. And even though they got tired and dizzy-eyed, and maybe a little bored with the repetitious work, they kept going – because people needed those masks. We came to think of ourselves as the modern-day Rosie the Riveter. I was and continue to be a proud member of a vast group of people who stepped up when it mattered. I try to remember this when I contemplate how dangerously divided our country has become by the upcoming election. And then I think about how when it came to helping one another get through this horrific virus, politics played no role. Conservatives and liberals alike sewed and sewed and sewed. We had to. We all had lives to save.