That sentence can be answered in a variety of ways, but the only one that really matters is how we answer it for ourselves. What a noisy time we are living in. The cacophony of opinions about all of it are astounding. But, that has really always been the case, right?

Nobody has been able to live in a cave this past year– even if we design as many buffers as we possibly can to insulate ourselves from the raging debates that continue about everything in our world, when it comes down to the COVID pandemic itself, we have all had to adjust to unalterable truths about danger. One can’t argue with a death toll over 550,000 in a year.  Well… I’m sure some do. But, as time goes on, more and more of us have had a first hand experience with death of a loved one, or near misses too close to home. 

I recently sent a note to a business acquaintance, the last person I had coffee with in a public space, March 13th, 2020, to mark the anniversary.  It was a networking opportunity for him; he was changing gears and wanted to chat about possibilities in health care, my own career territory.  We had the place to ourselves but for the staff who were diligently cleaning all surfaces; the significance was noted and we cut our meeting short. He left to drive to a neighboring state to pick up his college kid who was moving home for the duration. I consider this date the beginning….

Life was altered immediately after that date. Social interaction slowed to outside gatherings or FaceTime and Zoom. I remember my first Zoom funeral, the difficult choice not to attend a family wedding, and sending congratulations for a new baby I have yet to meet. The flow of information about how to stay safe started at fire hose velocity, but slowed to a trickle on the advice one needed to live day-to-day.

A year later, I have an ample supply of masks. My delivery and curbside pick-up habits are set. I have cleaned all of my closets. I have written the first draft of my third novel and have stayed fully engaged with my Board work. I have been vaccinated and am beyond the required waiting time. Nearly all of my loved ones have been vaccinated. But, one has had a break-through case of COVID after having been fully vaccinated. Another is still unemployed.

The experts are telling us we are not out of the woods.  Herd immunity seems elusive. The New York Times calls Minnesota a hot spot with increasing case numbers. There is endless debate about seasonality and the politics of where outbreaks are occurring.

I’m raring to move on!  Spring in Minnesota is arriving—on its own schedule, of course. But, daffodils are blooming and yard clean-up is calling. My patio will again serve as a meeting spot for friends. I had a guest for Easter! There is a plan to see the grandchildren in June! 

I’m not waiting for a parade, but will broaden my horizons with day-to-day living and condition myself to calculate my risks based on whatever is on the near horizon. I can’t wait to meet my friend for coffee again and ask him how he likes his new job!

Whatever is declared and whenever it happens, my sincerest hope is that we remember the lessons learned and do what we can to avoid the next one. So, I ask you, when will you declare it’s over?