How soon we forget.

As I sit in my living room, planning my busy week, I think of this day in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was raging, and we were afraid to leave our homes in my senior community, Fairfield at St. James.

I had already lost two friends to the pandemic, and Instacart and Amazon had become my new friends. How did I fill my time? Duolingo: I studied Spanish online for two years.

I missed my friends, my family, the movies and restaurants. But I felt safe at home, where my grandkids came and kissed me through the glass of my sliding door.

When the vaccine was offered, I rushed to get it while offering thanks in my heart for the wonderful scientists who worked so hard and so quickly to produce it. I endured the naysayers and the long line of cars at Stony Brook University Hospital waiting to be tested while praying for the safety of the medical staff and police who moved us along with calm and friendly expressions.

I was lonely, but I was determined to keep safe — and keep my loved ones safe. I worried because my son worked as an emergency room nurse. He told me of the kindness of the community that brought food to the staff at the end of an exhausting shift and how much it meant to them.

My masks hung everywhere in my home ready for use. I was grateful for TV and the multitude of actors, comedians and everyday people who tried to keep our spirits up. I was grateful for the daily updates and encouragement of our governor. I was grateful for the store owners, especially the Trader Joe’s staff who wiped down shopping carts after each use and limited the number of customers (with masks) who could shop at a time, the few times fellow residents and I ventured out.

I — along with a good number of fellow residents — formed a parade of cars with signs to drive past the stores, the police station, the firehouse and clinics. We beeped our horns and yelled thank-yous. It was a small token of our thanks. I delivered pizza to the police station, the firehouse and even the funeral home to show them how much we appreciated them.

So today here I am, planning a meeting here, a card game there, a shopping excursion and a trip to Coney Island — things I thought I would never do again at 85. I did not get COVID-19, and the pandemic seems so long ago now because for most of us things are getting better.

Still, I’d like us not to forget the isolation and the fear of the unknown. We should not forget the doctors and nurses, some of whom gave their lives to serve the public.

We could also stop complaining about having to go to the office instead of working from home, and stop grousing about the traffic, and the airline and train service.

Instead, take a look around you. Hug your friends, hug your family, live every day to the fullest. Be kind. But do not forget.

Carol Walsh,

St. James

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