Last night I watched the beginning of CNN Heroes, a look back at the year and who did special, amazing things. The first segment featured a bunch of front-line health workers who spent the year caring for Covid victims. They’re a support group that gets away to talk and do things together. Last night’s segment showed them rock climbing. It’s called the Hero Recharge Program, provided by a non-profit called First Descents.
One of the people they interviewed said that she went to work every day knowing that she’d have PTSD when this all ended. But she did it anyway, because that’s the job. Most won’t get a week in nature for a break. They’ll just work through it.
The woman spoke of things that she pushed forward, with the implication that she’d have to deal with them someday when this was over and there was time. That’s what people do when they’re in impossible circumstances–they do what they need to and understand at some level that there’s a mess waiting for them on the other side.
It’s not just the health professionals that’ll need attention if and when we get past this. It’ll be the parents who juggled job demands with at-home school and kids who were confined to home with no friends around. For them, there was no off switch.
It’s the kids who need the socialization of their friends to get by, who are building their emotional framework for life–and had that interrupted by a big disease that made their parents angry and irritable. And made them lonely and mad.
It’s the people trying to run a business around shutdowns and people staying in, who had to become more resourceful every damn day. It’s the people who lost their jobs and had to figure out a way to move forward anyway, who have months of rent due–and whose protections are set to run out in a few weeks.
And to a lesser extent, it’s all of us, who watched the world go to hell on several different fronts and couldn’t do a damn thing about it. Except sit inside and stew as everything fell apart around us.
This won’t be over when it’s over. The immediate threat of the Covid will fade as people get vaccinated. It might take until the second half of 2021 or longer. But it will eventually pass.
And outwardly, in spite of some not believing in the pre-pandemic mindset, life will return to something like 2019.
But the rippled of this year will be present for decades to come, starting with the wave of mental illness from those who experienced it worse.
As we go forward, we need to take care of ourselves. If ever there were a time in our history to stop looking for ways to exclude people, the 2020s will be it.
Right now, there’s nothing to indicates we’re collectively up to the task.