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Is This What Normal Feels Like?

By Ray Cardello for June 20 Season 2 / Post 5

Maybe it is over. Maybe it is fading in our rearview mirror. Maybe the experts were wrong again when they said we would be in masks until 2022. Maybe, just maybe, we beat this thing, and America and the world survived the Pandemic of 2020. We did it together. Not as black or white; male or female; straight or gay; we did it as one people and well ahead of the expert’s prediction.

Yesterday was the last day of school, and I parked the bus for the final time this spring. I was ready for the end. The kids were ready for the end. They dutifully wore their masks, as I did, to the last stop. I shut down the bus, took off my mask, and threw it away. I hope I never have to wear one or see one again. This challenging year can be closed like a bad book. The story wasn’t terrific, but the ending was great. We won. Everyone is hopeful that we crank up the big yellow buses in the Fall; all will be normal. No masks, no empty rows of seats, no disinfecting after every run. Just pick them up, drop them off, repeat.

The highway north was busy yesterday afternoon as we made our way to Central Maine. The toll booths were congested, and somehow it was okay. It meant things were normal. We got to the lake and joined our extended family for a mixed weekend. There were hugs, and there were kisses, there were handshakes; all was normal. Normal is being used often in this story, but whoever thought normal could mean so much.

The mixed weekend is because we get together to bury one of our own. My girlfriend’s brother-in-law, Stan, passed away months ago. But in another cruel reality of the pandemic, his burial was delayed. Even mourning could not be normal under COVID. We all spent the rest of the weekend celebrating family and Stanley. The present and the past. Life goes on. We won.

There were four generations sharing time this weekend. Nearly 90 years of living, loving, and memories. COVID is now one of those memories. Not all memories are good. We were all cheated out of a year and a half of our lives by a silent disease. A disease that claimed lives, sickened lives, and changed all of our lives forever. Life is about memories and the living. Life goes on. We won.

There will be many more weekends to share. More places to visit and more adventures to enjoy in our RV. Maybe the best part of it all is to see faces again. Seeing people’s expressions. Seeing people without a piece of plexiglass between us. Life is a visual contact sport. We have missed all that in the Pandemic era, and some tried to scare us into thinking we may never touch and see again. They were wrong. Yes, we won.

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