If I can be honest, I have really missed being at the school with our staff and students. I’ve missed being out at recess watching the children play, laugh and run around. I’ve missed connecting with staff and the smell of yummy lunches that everyone (except for me) has made. I’ve missed greeting the parents and dogs who drop their children off, and the routines that bring normalcy to my life. I’ve missed connecting with our families in person and more than anything, I’ve missed giving and receiving the daily hugs from small and big people who generously reach out for connection each day.
I thought that these ‘unprecedented times’ would be long gone and that we would be celebrating and laughing about how we gracefully – or ungracefully – survived 2020 and the pandemic. But alas, here we are, patiently waiting for a glimmer of sunshine, the computer to log on, or the Internet to unfreeze the screen again. This has taken much longer than I would have thought and I can’t help wondering how much longer it will be before we can safely be together without masking up.
At Kettle Creek Public School we are thrilled to be back to our “in-person learning model,” which has given me hope that things are moving in the right direction. And yet, the insecurity about whether we will be asked to pivot back with minimal notice always lurks in the back of my mind, keeping me on edge about embracing the moment in case it gets taken away again.
I shared this sentiment with my 82-year-old mother, who listened patiently, and after I was done my complaining, she shared with me that she understood the stress ambiguity brings to life. Her generation also went through challenges of uncertainty.
She explained that after the depression and war hit, food scarcity was commonplace, with families facing the uncertainty of if or when the next meal would come. She told me about an aunt whose teenage son went away to war and never came home. The uncertainty of how or why he died was overwhelming for her.
She described how my dad had to run from school with a book over his head while bombs exploded nearby, uncertain of whether his little brother had made it to safety. She quietly told me about entire cities that were decimated and when the bombing started, people hid, uncertain of whether they were going to be safe or how long they would have to stay there. This chaos went on for over four years and they had no explanations, no logical game plan and no end date. Even survival for them was uncertain.
I quickly realized while listening to her stories that our struggle with COVID-19 fatigue and the ongoing uncertainty pales in comparison to the intense precariousness of life and death situations faced by our parents’ and grandparents’ generation. Her stories reveal that they survived those challenges because they accepted the fact that looking for certainty in a time of uncertainty is futile.
Survival in times like these requires a shift in thinking. As we start to get weary, missing the good things that we use to enjoy, wondering when this will end, we, like those who came before us, must recognize and accept the unknown and make a concerted effort to focus on that which is certain. This can be very challenging to do, but with grit, tenacity and willpower, we can teach ourselves to move from an attitude of despair to a mindset of strength, resiliency and hope.
To that end, I am working very hard to focus on what I know for sure in this moment. I know that I am not the only one going through this challenge and that this burden is shared and carried by people throughout our community and the world. I am certain that most Canadians are doing their best to do what it takes to help bring numbers down. I am certain that the hardworking people on the front lines appreciate the efforts we are making to keep each other safe. I know that giving up what I want to do for the benefit of those who are compromised is the right thing to do.
I know that when this is over, we will all breathe a sigh of relief and be proud of how we came together, sacrificed and supported each other during this time. I am certain that we, like our parents and grandparents, will survive. That is all I need to know for now.