Sunset on Road Ahead

We are barreling down Route 128 in the sections where we know there are few chances of perhaps being reminded by certain uniformed civil servants that we may be exceeding the speed limit. All of a sudden, we see activity up ahead. There’s right lane trouble, so we all merge left. Our speed reduces from a bit (or a lot) over the limit to 30 mph.

It looked like clear sailing. We were moving right along and out of nowhere… Good thing we were paying attention. We were able to adapt and respond to a massive change in the landscape. We were able to cope with the unexpected. Adapting, responding, and coping are good skills to have while driving, boating, skiing… living.

We aren’t “stuck” at home anymore.

We aren’t quite at the “go anywhere, do anything” point, but we aren’t captives. We walk the beach, go to the market, aren’t terrified to pump our gas, and (with confidence) use the ATM. We are in between. If Route 128 had three lanes, we would be in the middle one.

Like the traffic, we are humbled by our lack of control over our environment. Humbled? Yes, and we’ve been irate, frustrated, bereft, numb, and exhausted over it. And here we are now, in the middle lane. We want to put our left blinker on and zoom out into the fast lane again. Be on our merry way. Get where we are going… and have someplace to go.

Maps have the satisfaction that GPS doesn’t. You see where you came from, and you can see where you are going. You can measure. It’s tangible. You can hold it in your hand and have that tactile experience. Progress has been made.

Homecare is a “COVID-facing” industry.

Eighty percent of my workforce has either been vaccinated or is scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. We are in and out of homes with visitors, neighbors, relatives, other health care providers, tradespeople, and we are exposed…daily. We have tested, retested, quarantined, rescheduled, educated, informed, delivered, counseled, cried, wrestled, screamed, and like everyone, we have kept going.

And now, there is a crack in the clouds. A little stream of the sun is peeking through. We don’t know if we can trust it. We read about “new variants” just as we dared to hope. What will that mean? Are we starting all over?

Which lane should we stay in? Should we take a risk and go out to the left? Avoid the right lane; there is trouble ahead. The roads are slow going; the traffic is heavy. We use the helps we have available. We rarely go anywhere without our masks. It’s second nature now. If we ever don’t need them, at least in the immediate future, we’ll be finding masks everywhere...our pockets, glove compartments, briefcases. One day it might be like the old lifesaver covered with lint in the pocket. “Remember when we used to wear masks…everywhere?” Relics…

Right now, we aren’t yet out in the passing lane. We’re trying to get on with things,to choose the lane that has the shortest wait. We’re trying to find where we can get an appointment to get our COVID-19 vaccine. Will we get sick? If so, how sick?

We have so many questions, but often, far too few answers.

We have to pick a lane. Although, rather than zigzag back and forth, we can choose to stay put. We can choose to stay in the one lane that offers hope while staying vigilant and doing what we know works. “Trust the facts. Get the vax.”

It's been the forest prime evil. It's been dark. The light is peeking through the clouds…finally. I say we celebrate it, let the trumpets make their jubilant sound. Let’s grieve with those who grieve, dance with those who celebrate, and stay contemplative about all that this period has meant. We will validate all the sacrifices and pain and acknowledge the losses, even if they haven’t been our own.

We are a portion of the whole.

Never has that been so evident. Let’s continue to reach out, offer compassion, kindness, care, and a bowl of soup to a neighbor. Let’s look for the sun to finally burst through the clouds, for us all to be vaccinated, and for the numbers to go down. Let’s keep our hearts ever grateful for those who stepped in front of the COVID-Bus to take care of those who needed it.

Stay alert and be ready to make that ever-important lane change…when the time is right.

Joanne MacInnis, RN, is the founder and president of Aberdeen Home Care, Inc., of Danvers, a concierge private duty home care agency in business since 2001. With 35 years of nursing practice, management and administration experience focused on home care and hospice, Joanne and her team specialize in advising and supporting families addressing the elders in their lives retain dignity and quality of life.