These days, my neighbors and I sit on the lawn and yell at one another.
No, we’re not arguing. We’re doing the new normal – social distancing. But communication is difficult because we are so hard-of-hearing we’re next door to deaf.
And so we sit far apart and yell our heads off.
“What did you say? I can’t hear you with that TRAIN roaring by! Speak LOUDER!”
“I said, ‘It’s kind of humid today.’’’
“WHO did WHAT today?”
“No, no, NO! HUMID. It’s HUMID today.”
“Oh, yeah, you’re right. It IS!”
By this fall, we’ll probably all be sitting there screaming at one another through those big ear funnel-trumpets or maybe by then we’ll all be fitted, finally, with hearing aids. I keep hearing in my head my parents’ frequent admonition of years ago when they’d have a snootful: “Nobody’s gettin’ any younger. And that old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.”
Thus, here we are adapting in our own ways to this new reality caused by a vicious invisible virus.
As a reporter covering CV-related stories, I’m so impressed with the many people who are adapting inventively. They are using true grit, ingenuity, creativity, makeshift methods and extraordinary kindness and courtesy toward others to ease them and others through sometimes long, lonely, anxious hours. There are parents and children all home together doing their jobs or learning via computers as they discover and rediscover fun ways to be together, to have fun, to bond. There are dedicated teachers connecting online to at-home students. There are volunteers delivering lunches to students and to elderly and/or medically compromised folks who must self-isolate as virtual shut-ins.
The constant courage of those on the front lines of the battle against CV is awe-inspiring – all of those doctors, nurses and medical technicians who are often exhausted physically and emotionally after long work shifts.
Then there are those caught between a rock and a hard place, the ones who cannot work from home, who go to their jobs because they must go – either out of a sense of undying dedication or because they need the money, paycheck to paycheck, to pay the bills and feed their families.
Then there are those workers – oh so many of them – whose jobs have vanished or who are laid off, perhaps permanently. Millions of them have lost their health insurance along with their jobs. Imagine the terror they must be feeling. And let’s also remember all the small-business owners who find themselves in a terrible financial pinch, forcing them to let their employees go as they agonize whether or not their businesses will even survive.
Of course, even sadder than the economic devastation are all the people who have died, cut down so swiftly, so cruelly by that hideous virus: spouses, parents, grandparents, nurses, doctors, nursing-home residents, military veterans, transportation workers, even some little children. It goes on and on, this ghastly parade of death. More than 100,000 victims. And still counting.
It’s impossible to fathom the sheer extent of that kind of suffering and sorrow when people are unable to comfort, to hug or to say goodbye in person to precious loved ones at the brink of death. Even the mourning process at funerals is not possible in these dark days.
This pandemic is such a heavy burden in so many complicated ways for so many people. It’s no wonder – with all the pent-up anxieties – that people want to bust out of their isolation and all this social distancing and join others for a grand old time. There’s nothing normal about this new normal; people are social creatures, meant to be together. Let’s hope the darkness will pass, that the gloom and doom will soon be vanquished by a brimming, celebratory life force.
In the meantime, let’s wear masks and continue social distancing. And let’s thank and pay honor to all these everyday heroes who are finding such ingenious, generous ways in getting us all through these toughest of times.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.