500 Words

By: Dr. Roger Landry

(Originally printed in the Winter 2020 Masterpiece Mosaic)

I have no illusions. I know that in 500 words, I cannot begin to assuage the widespread negative effects of the Covid 19 assault on our lives.

I cannot correct the sense of profound isolation we feel from the rest of our species, with the ever-present and necessary mask a fitting metaphor for our removal from our comfortable social rituals. I cannot ease the burden of financial uncertainty, which leaves few untouched. I cannot correct the disruption of the community environment with dining, classes, and gatherings eliminated or altered; associates faced with the stress of potential infection of their older adult charges, their families, or themselves…all with possible lethal effect. And, try as I might, removing or even reducing the colossal levels of anxiety and emotional upheaval seems like an overwhelming task.

I will fall woefully short of replacing the many small but meaningful rituals in our lives that enrich us and bring comfort. And sadly, I cannot adequately console for the poignant loss of friends or family members.

But I want to help in some small way. So, please allow me to ask these few exploratory questions…because this pandemic is a historic event in our collective species’ experience. It will be a significant part of what defines the rest of our lives. Who we are and will be is being tested and crafted, now.

  • Did you face your fears and think of others?
  • Did you step up to your responsibility to meet this assault on humanity?
  • Did you accept the radical changes in your life and see the opportunity to embrace change?
  • Did you reflect on your life and see the way to a better you?
  • Did you feel, perhaps for the first time, a kinship with all humans?
  • Did you feel a new relationship with the earth?

The answers to these questions will color your life’s tapestry. The vignette of the child asking the grandfather, “What did you do in the war, papa?” comes to mind. Even if we didn’t feed the hungry, our internal response, our kindness, and empathy, the minimization of our personal discomforts and our caring about our immediate family and our extended family of man…all these mean something and contribute to getting through this indiscriminate attack.

You living and working within senior living… you are heroes. As residents, you sacrificed much in order to keep your neighbors healthy and alive. As associates, your work has not been recognized for what it is…selfless and noble work to keep all others in the community safe and healthy. Despite personal risk, despite long hours, despite the loss of friends, you continue to prevail despite muted interactions with your own family. The colors of your tapestry will be brilliant and warm and regal. We are indeed all in this together, and we will surely prevail together.