I don’t often quote Jerry Garcia. In fact, I don’t think I have ever quoted him, but somehow “what a long, strange trip it’s been” seems appropriate right now. And let’s add Ralph Marston’s “Just because the road ahead is long, is no reason to slow down,” as we forge ahead.
Yes, it has been a long year since COVID-19 hit Massachusetts. Yes, there is a long road ahead.
Last year, when schools and businesses and municipal buildings shut down, I wrote with hope that the pandemic would end quickly. Today, I still write with hope as more people recover from the virus, the death toll from COVID is greatly reduced and vaccinations take place.
I told my children last March that they should not expect to return to their school buildings until the fall, and now they are weeks away from returning fulltime after months of learning in a hybrid model.
A year ago I lamented the loss of St. Patrick’s celebrations, a grand tradition in my family and millions of others. Although the annual St. Patrick’s Parade was canceled once again and Westfield’s 2020 Colleen and her court continue to reign, I am encouraged that this year I can get a corned beef sandwich or dinner at a local restaurant or fraternal or social club. And as of last week, I can even listen to live music while I eat my sandwich and raise my pint!
Visitation at nursing care facilities is opening up once again and people can see their loved ones, many of whom were the most affected by the pandemic.
For those who lost family and friends to COVID-19 – including the 105 Westfield residents who died from COVID – I offer my very sincere condolences. I cannot begin to imagine how you feel, especially those who could not give a final kiss or hug to their loved one.
I do, unfortunately, know firsthand how COVID affected those in hospitals and nursing facilities and their families. Communication was non-existent in my experience. Not knowing the condition of a loved one in a hospital is a terrible feeling that I hope I do not have to endure again. Being alone in a facility without contact with family and friends is something I hope no one has to experience.
In today’s paper are stories about lessons learned from local leaders and I hope that the many lessons learned in healthcare this past year create a better system moving forward.
I also offer my continued and heartfelt thanks to those who held hands and sang songs and brought comfort to those who were alone and sick this past year (and at any time). Your kindness is appreciated more than any words I could share in this column.
What I wrote last year rings true today – we can do this together.