We’ll Come Through this Pandemic Stronger. I Know Because . . . And Yet.

I have the advantage of having a long-range perspective. No, I didn’t time-travel, but there were days when it felt like I had gone back in time.

Over the past several years, I researched and wrote the history of my parish, (cover design by Julie Ann Cook, http://julieanncook.com/lifely/  )

a parish born from the deaths of another pandemic. Today we’re hearing comparisons to the Spanish Flu, and that’s where my time-traveling began.

In 2018 I spent months scrolling through the local daily newspapers archived on microfiche.  One of the interesting things about reading those old newspapers was living history in real time, watching how war, the Lindbergh kidnapping, and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart played out over time. (If I were still homeschooling, that’s how I’d teach history!) The headlines in 1918 and 1919 covered the closings of movie houses and other businesses, schools, and churches, and the call for everyone to cover their mouth with cloth.

This was before HIPPA, so those dying or stricken with the virus were listed like war dead. As I read the accounts of victims, some as young as 5 years-old, I kept thinking of that scene in Cecil B. DeMille’s, The Ten Commandments, when the angel of death is misting its way through the streets of Egypt. In the background you hear the cries of parents and spouses as loved ones are taken. It was difficult taking my eyes away from the news stories.

And yet. There were other stories, too.  Our country had just come out of a world war so the sense of community was strong with neighbor helping neighbor. A small group of Catholics were meeting every other week above a storefront, believing they would someday have a church of their own. There was this overwhelming sense of hope, relief, and resilience from having survived the war, so of course they would get through this illness. There was no doubt. There seemed to be the knowledge or belief that the epidemic wouldn’t last forever – I don’t know how they knew this, but they seemed to – and so while they grieved, they kept focused ahead.

By 1920 there was no lingering mention of the epidemic in the newspapers. Instead, businesses were back to normal. Movies were being shown for pennies a ticket. In November 1920, St. Anne Catholic Church was dedicated.

While doing my research I never imagined that in 2020, just 3 short weeks after my book was published, we would be living a similar experience with COVID-19. I’m no Pollyanna (though I’ve been accused of being one), I know how challenging this pandemic is.

I also have the long-range perspective of personal experience. As many of you know, but for those of you who may not, my daughter is a two-time childhood cancer survivor. Over the course of ten years we went through therapy twice, once for 2 years then again for over 3 years. When she was eight, I was told she probably wouldn’t survive the surgery she was headed into and I needed to say good-bye.

During those years of therapy, I felt what so many are feeling now – uncertainty, fear, anger, the weight of everything, like there was no end in sight, and, because of her weakened immune system, isolation. While we were living in the chaos, it was impossible to see past it.

And yet. There were blessings in the chaos. And within a year of ending her sometimes daily visits to the clinic, and regular 3-day admissions to the hospital, the new quarterly check-ups were an intrusion in our back-to-normal life.

And so, we will come through the other side of this pandemic like our ancestors and my family did. There is an innate goodness in people with neighbor helping neighbor. There is an innate resilience that is bolstered through faith, or video chats with loved ones, or through times of rest and always, humor.

I’m not a scientist so I don’t know when we’ll see the other side. I just know we will.







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2 Responses to We’ll Come Through this Pandemic Stronger. I Know Because . . . And Yet.

  1. Susan March says:

    I have no doubt that you are right , Because there are so many good people in the world like you , & people like you will see us through .

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