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Thoughts on the pandemic after one year

It’s March again, huh?

Last year at this time, COVID-19 and the pandemic were just a few stray headlines that popped up if you were browsing the news. It was just something happening somewhere else. But by mid-March, the fast-moving virus had spread to our own communities.

All of a sudden, COVID-19 went from a looming storm threat on the distant horizon to a downpour inundating everything in sight.

It turned our regular routines upside down. Events and gatherings were canceled. Quarantines and lockdowns and working from home became the first line of defense, not only here in the Roanoke-Chowan area but all across the world. I still remember talking to several of my online friends who live in Canada, the UK, Australia, the Philippines, and Japan about what was happening in their own countries. We were all worried about entering into the unknown.

For me, I was lucky enough that I could keep doing my job from home for a while until we all adjusted better to working with COVID safety precautions in place. But those two months where I did all my phone interviews from the safety of my bedroom, typing everything up on a laptop I borrowed from my mom, were very strange. It also felt very unusual getting to cover things like alternative high school graduation events during that timeframe.

Time during this period seemed to simultaneously fly by and slow down to an absolute crawl. For a while, my calendar was simply a useless bundle of pages.

There have been plenty of adjustments we’ve had to make in the past year of the pandemic. If someone told me in February last year that I’d need to pause to get my temperature checked before I enter certain buildings, I’d think they were getting confused with something from a sci-fi novel. Lines are different now too. (But actually, I feel like socially distanced lines are an improvement because I’ve always disliked really tightly-packed lines of people.)

Then there are the masks. I don’t mind wearing them at all when I’m out in public or having to interact with people. In fact, it’s been nice during the frigid winter months to have something warm over my nose when I’m outside! After all this time, I still don’t understand the opposition some have to wearing them. It’s the easiest way (other than staying at home) to reduce your odds of catching the virus and protecting yourself.

With the pandemic shifting our lives in ways we never imagined before, it has also given us more time than ever to reflect on other things we can change. After the tragic death of George Floyd at the end of May, people started speaking out once again about the racism and injustice many still face in our country. For a while, there was a lot of momentum for necessary improvements and for reckoning with the nastier parts of our country’s history. But while that’s simmered down a bit now, several months later, I want us to keep the conversation going. Maybe if we keep talking about it enough, we will not have to wait until the next tragic death to change things.

The pandemic, however, has given us plenty other tragic deaths to mourn first: over half a million in the United States alone so far. It’s terrible that so many people have died from this illness that perhaps could have been prevented. Even the way we grieve has been changed during these past twelve months.

But despite everything the year 2020 threw at us, the sun still rises and sets every day. We adjust and keep moving forward. It’s not always a fun time, but even the pre-pandemic days weren’t always sunshine and roses.

One year later, we’ve gotten used to life in a pandemic because we cannot simply stop and give up.

We have lost a lot in the past year. Loved ones, important gatherings, quality time with one another. But at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now that vaccines are getting distributed. Even though so many parts of our daily lives have changed, the pandemic will not last forever.

When this all began last March, I kept thinking about a quote from an old anime series I used to watch. I don’t remember the context now at all, but I remember the sentence clearly: “Earth turns on a tilted axis, just doing the best it can.”

It’s a good illustration, isn’t it? Nothing in the world is perfect, even the world itself. But it keeps on spinning anyway.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.