What Might Have Been

Sunday, February 7, 2021 6:49am

So far, I’m not hating 2021.

I think I’ve adjusted to the new normal and have even surprised myself how okay I am with life right now.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard. I miss my friends/family for sure. And as much as I appreciate all the forms of social media and ways we stay connected, there’s something about hanging out in person and just laughing out loud and seeing someone’s smile that I truly miss the most. Or the hugs!  Remember those?  I didn’t realize how much we all hugged each other just to say “hello” or “good-bye” till Covid hit. But, yeah I miss all of that.

I realized I missed something else too…

Yesterday, I was walking down the street heading over to the grocery store to pick up a blueberry muffin. If I’m being honest, it’s my excuse and reward to walk in the neighborhood and get a little sunshine. Since Covid started, I’ve been working-out in my apartment or in my little courtyard and staying away from others as much as possible, so taking a walk once in a while, needs to have a purpose:  A blueberry muffin on Saturdays seems to be part of my regular schedule now. 

As I turned the corner onto Washington Street, I saw a woman in shorts lying on the ground gasping a bit. It was pretty easy to determine that she’d fallen running. From the looks of things, she must’ve hit the pavement hard because she had dirt and leaves from the tree all over her back. She’d also lost hold of her phone and whatever else she was carrying.   

Instinctively, I stopped at a distance and yelled on over to her, “Are you okay? Do you need help?”  She looked over wearily and said, “I’m okay. I just need a minute. I don’t know why I fell. I run here all the time.” 

I waited for her to try and stand. I saw her struggle and still, I kept my distance. She took a few minutes to get back up. It looked like she might have scraped her knee, but I was too far away to really be able to see. She had dirt all over the back of her t-shirt and hair. I told her to make sure she brushed herself off in back because she had so much all over her. She thanked me and tried her best to clean off before wearily trying to get back up on her feet. 

I waited a bit longer, just to make sure she was steady. 

When I thought she was absolutely fine, I said good-bye and continued on my way to pick up my blueberry muffin. She was gracious and thanked me for stopping. 

I crossed the street and continued on. And then a sense of sadness just hit my whole being. I was a little overwhelmed with dread…I started to tear – and in a mask, that, just became uncomfortable. I stopped at the corner and took off my mask for a second. I grabbed a tissue, wiped my eyes and started to put my mask back on.  A man was walking by with his dog, and from a distance he asked, “Are you okay?”

I put my mask back on and nodded while also saying, “Yeah. Yes. Thank you. I’m alright. Just having a moment.” 

I could only see his eyes, but I’m sure he was smiling. He wished me a good rest of my day and went along with his dog.  A golden retriever, that normally, I would have asked if I could pet. But not any longer.  I just waved good-bye and continued on.   

It dawned on me that if we had never had this Pandemic, I would have easily run up to this woman’s side when I first saw her and I would have helped her up, using my arm to steady her. I may have helped brush off some of the dirt or helped pick up her phone that had landed on the ground when she fell.  I might have walked with her for a bit or at the very least, learned her name.  I might have made a new friend in the neighborhood. And who knows what might have happened after that?  Think about all the possibilities! I may not have run into this guy and his dog. But maybe I would have at a different time and knowing my neighborhood, I would have said good-morning and asked if I could pet his dog. He might have told me his dog’s name and…

Covid has taken so many lives. It’s been horrible on multiple levels.  But yesterday was the first time I realized that it’s also taken away our ability to meet new people and the possible new futures that “might’ve been”.

It’s not just that I miss my niece’s hugs or laughing with friends over a glass of wine after a nice meal. I also miss the random interactions we would have had with strangers.  The ability to help another person or have them help you. The possible new friendships or connections that would have happened had Covid never been a thing.

But it is a thing. 

And even as I tear at all the “might-have-beens”, I realize that this is temporary. I realize that people have died, and we’ve lost way too many.  And sure, it sucks that I couldn’t really help this person yesterday in the way I normally would or that I don’t know her name and probably never will.  But it sucks even more that I personally know people who have died of Covid.  That as of this writing 462,000 people have passed away – all too soon, and most of those deaths – preventable. That is 462,000 fellow citizens who could have been possible new friends, possible new connections, possible new business contacts, possible new networking relationships, and yes, just possibly new friendly neighbors.

Photo by Anna Shvets

Please do your part today and every day while we all work through this terrible time.  I know it’s hard. Trust me. I cried the rest of the way to the grocery store because I thought of how cruel Covid has been that I couldn’t really help another person for fear of getting or giving someone a death sentence. We’re all in this together.  The sooner we realize that – the quicker it will be that we can get back to some sort of new normal that feels better than this.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep a distance.

I look forward to the day when these three sentences seem so damn silly and outdated. 


10 thoughts on “What Might Have Been

  1. Thanks for sharing this with us. It really is difficult, but I think you did the right thing, and you were still supportive and present at a safe distance. I think that’s the best we can hope for right now. Thanks for being a ray of light in this gloomy little world we have, and if I see an opportunity to help someone I’ll definitely take it!

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  2. Man do I ever hear this! You never realize how really sociable you are (even if you’re an introvert) until the ability to readily respond to someone is taken away from you.

    Someday soon this will be all over. I still wonder what other behaviours will have become irrevocably changed because of this virus. Will simple handshakes or heartfelt hugs go away? I hope not.

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  3. You did exactly the right thing, as hard as it was. This is a current normal and we all struggle with it. I have immunocompromised friends and have rigidly stuck the the rules because of that. I have only once been within 6 feet of them although I call regularly. I am sending you a warm hug.

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