Wow! It’s not over, of course, but do I see a ray of light around the corner? My second shot is scheduled for next week! Many friends have been vaccinated and family is in line to be scheduled. My grandchildren are headed back to in-person school. I’m still healthy and mostly sane on my best days…but still waiting for the thrum of anxiety to leave me.

My home state, Minnesota, has announced the welcome news of allowing larger gatherings, restaurants can serve at greater capacity, school re-openings, and most important, a steady and reliable supply of vaccine which should allow for all adults in Minnesota to be vaccinated by early summer. AND ten thousand fans will be allowed to attend the Twins baseball game opener on April 8th!

This is such good news that it seems remarkable and somewhat hard to believe. There are still those epidemiologists who are signaling the alarm of variants yet to be named which will erase all progress to date, and we now know that having enough vaccine is only part of the solution. Getting the supply chain working smoothly took much longer than many thought it should. Spikes have surprised us before, and could come out of nowhere again. Because we still don’t know everything about this virus that we need to know. 

In fact, there is much that is UNKNOWABLE. Wrapping my mind around that reality is the challenge ahead. My rational self reminds me that life is unpredictable, and that I’ve been taking risks throughout mine. Sometimes with good results, sometimes not—but never to the point that it stopped me in my tracks. So what’s different this time?

How many risks have I taken in my life when I knew the stakes were so high—life and death stakes? In retrospect, probably many, without consciously considering the stakes. Of course, any time you drive a car, take an airplane, cross a busy street, have an elective surgery, indulge in questionable behavior you are taking a chance. But, you accept the odds—people are killed in car accidents, plane crashes, medical mishaps all of the time—but you don’t dwell on the downside. 

Unfortunately, the downside of COVID-19 has been in our faces for a year. We have seen, heard and experienced the pain, death, loss of job and home—if not personally, clearly vicariously. Our collective worlds have been shaken badly. Nobody is unscathed. Empathy for others, and worry for all takes a toll, regardless of how close the virus comes.

Many have needed to take time-outs from listening to the daily news on occasion just for a much needed mental health break.  Others, have reached out to the mental health providers who have established new avenues for visits on-line to help people get through this unprecedented time. Having spent my career in health care, I am in awe of the fortitude and heroism of the health care professionals who we have watched get stretched beyond their limits and yet, never give up. We are indebted to them, and all essential workers.

Over the two weeks after my second jab, while my body adjusts to my safer status, I’m going to work hard on calming my jitters. Reminding myself that all of life is unpredictable, and known risky behavior can be avoided. But, I will be watchful, perhaps a bit slow to fully engage in all of my past activities until I feel confident. Already, I know that the jitters will be overtaken by the glimmer of future joy that will come from many things. I’ve started a list:

1—first hugs with my grandchildren

2—dinner with friends, unmasked 

3—my first post-pandemic massage

4—a Twins game

What’s on your re-entry list?