It was just about a year ago that we met for the first time. Initially, you were no more than a rumor, something people discussed as if you were a foreign entity.
For sure, you were becoming more and more real as the days went on. We still didn’t know a lot about you, but we certainly knew your name. When we heard about the devastation you were leaving in your wake overseas, we surely weren’t looking forward to your arrival here.
We tried our best to keep our distance, but we were more than intrigued when you did show up. We were anticipating you might hang around for a short time and just go away. Our parents told us you were no good, but when did we ever listen to our parents?
It wasn’t until it was too late that we realized what you really were.
People celebrate anniversaries for many different reasons, as they mark both the good and bad milestones in their lives. This is one anniversary we never thought we would need to observe. We were hoping it would be a footnote in our history, like a blizzard or hurricane that came and went. Those events left devastation in their wake, but they were over quickly. Eventually, we all got back to our lives.
It was just about a year ago that our lives may have been permanently disrupted because of you.
Our relationship started to get serious in February when we began banning travel from some countries into the United States and declared a public health emergency. Yet, we were still getting together with you as we enjoyed sporting events, dinners, concerts and Broadway shows. You were sending us red flags, but we were not receiving them.
Then you infected 21 people on a cruise ship off the coast of California in early March. Suddenly, we began looking at you without those rose-colored glasses. Once the World Health Organization declared you a pandemic and the United States of America announced a national emergency, it was too late. You had us in your grips, and there was no escaping.
Within a few days, you were responsible for the shutdown of an entire country. Baseball’s spring training was canceled while the NBA and NHL stopped playing regular-season games. Broadway went dark. We were suddenly so frightened of your evilness, we shut down a college basketball game at half-time, sending everyone inside Madison Square Garden home.
For a year, you were responsible for unnecessary heartbreak and loss to almost every one of us. Our lives were changed forever as we learned to live with new protocols designed to keep us safe from you. Masks, social distancing and sheltering in place became a way of life. We did without things we used to take for granted, like family gatherings for the holidays or going out to a restaurant.
Learning from the mistakes of previous bad relationships, we made the best of a bad situation.
We reconnected with our families, while some of us used the downtime to learn new skills. Many found they could survive without gathering in large, overcrowded venues while still enjoying a sporting event or a movie from the comfort of their living room. Working from home meant wearing sweatpants and T-shirts.
Best of all, we learned how to treat and take care of the people you did infect. Although we can’t save everyone, we save a lot more than we did when we first met you. Following the suggested protocols has curbed your ability to spread your evil.
But our greatest triumph is that we now have a vaccine to defeat you. We are no longer helpless in our attempts to get out of your grip. Your siren call is no longer being heard. Soon, you will be a distant memory, just another bad breakup in a series of bad relationships in our lifetimes.
Happy Anniversary? I don’t think so.
Goodbye to bad rubbish.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.