I recently heard someone say, “It’s called endemic because the pandemic is ending.”
I laughed. In that sense we have when someone completely misses the concept.
Many of us are done with COVID. Many of us want to be sure that the massive outbreaks we had don’t happen again.
That said, it’s hard to say, “The dates of COVID are from here to there.”
Which means that it’s hard to reflect on the experience, on the period, on the season in our lives.
We can, of course, talk about something when we are in the middle of it. But it’s helpful to put brackets around a season or a research project, a generation or a conflict. We know that the brackets are permeable. We know that there were things going on before, and that there are things that come after, but the naming of a season allows us to reflect on it.
Official starting states and official ending dates to public health crises are arbitrary. They allow us to gather statistics. They allow us to have some public agreement. Or public argument.
As I started writing on the season, I knew I needed to identify a start and a stop, which would allow me to reflect. I realized I could set my own dates. After all, I spent the global pandemic in a local experience. Talking with the people I knew. Walking in and out of the hospital where I worked. Worrying about the people I loved.
So, Jon’s pandemic started on December 5, 2019 at 0555. And it ended February 19, 2022.
On February 19, 2022, Mr. Ben Smith moved to Shelbyville, Indiana with his parents. It was an end to a season of the pandemic.
On December 9, 2019, at 5:55 am, Mrs Ardis Swanson died in Wheaton, Illinois. It was a start to a season of the pandemic.
When the "official" starting date came around March 13, I was in storylines already. Our kids, our careers, our church, our questions. The season of pandemic, the season of disruption may have started the morning that my mother finally died with Alzheimer's.
And the season of pandemic ended when our grandson moved. To a house. With his parents.
Since I figured out the dates of Jon’s pandemic, I’ve been better able to acknowledge how hard that season was for me and for us. It gives me a bin to hold all the losses of those months and to see the weight. I can watch the implications of the disruption of that season on organizations and on co-workers, on relationships and on ways of thinking.
As we see exhaustion and grief, frustration and fear, anger and ambiguity, having a named season helps us understand the weight which has caused it.
Spend some time. Set some dates.
Does the idea of naming your pandemic help?
Let me know.