Canceled seems to be a word we are hearing a lot of lately. I live in New York State and for the last 6 weeks or so we have been participating in a statewide lockdown. Like most of the rest of the United States and the world, we are only to leave our house for essential reasons such as doctors’ appointments or to pick up medications and food. Restaurants are closed except for takeout orders and all non-essential businesses are closed.
For a few weeks at the beginning of the lockdown, we were allowed and encouraged to get outside and visit state parks and other places where we could enjoy the outdoors and get a reprieve from being stuck inside. As the weeks waged on and the death rate in New York State climbed towards our “apex”, (a word our governor used regularly), we began to see the harsh reality of this pandemic.
As a neighborhood when this all started, we would take long walks together, keeping our distance but seeing each other to have some sense of normalcy. As time wore on we were told that you shouldn’t gather in groups any larger than 25, and then no less than 10 and now your immediate family. Our walks still occur and instead we now text when we’re passing a friend’s house so we can wave at each other through the window.
The harsh reality is that many special events and gatherings have been canceled because of the pandemic.
What has been canceled
Schools have long since been closed in NY State though there is a thought that perhaps they will start up again on May 15th. My family doesn’t see this being a possibility due to social distancing rules and the chance for a future outbreak. Because schools are canceled so too are after school sports. Those students playing in their final year of high-school sports have lost that chance. Those planning to play a sport in college in the fall are at a crossroads. Will they be recruited without a senior season to document their successes?
With schools being closed so too goes canceled senior class trips, the prom and graduation ceremonies. The harsh reality that their senior year was cut short is hard for many to come to terms with. You’re only a senior in high school once in your life. There is only one prom and for some who won’t be attending college, this would have been their only graduation ceremony. Those students who have earned the honor of valedictorian may not be able to give their student address.
College in the fall is an uncertainty for many as well. Will there be a fall in-person semester or will these seniors also face their first year in college being online from their bedroom? What about the college experience so many tell them about?
Playdates have been canceled as moms and dads struggle to find day to day activities to keep their children occupied while also juggling working from home, homeschooling, and everything else that life is throwing their way.
Unemployment numbers are through the roof in the United States with the pandemic contributing tremendously in the time since our president declared a national emergency. Canceled are the plans of many Americans who struggle to now put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
Canceled are dance recitals, baseball games, piano lessons, award shows, television seasons, and so much more.
What is Not Canceled?
What hasn’t been canceled in all of this is our ability to be a good person, a good friend, spouse, parent, daughter, son, colleague, or neighbor. Though we are experiencing some tough times this doesn’t mean we turn our back on those we love or those who love us. At the end of the day, we are still human beings living together who will one day be walking with each other again.
These are the times that make us resilient. I never thought NY would make it through a day like 9/11 but my city proved that we can overcome all the odds and we will do so again. We need each other more than ever during these times. We need those people that we can rely on and talk to when we’re feeling down and tired of it all. Everyone needs a shoulder to lean and cry on if need be.
The ability for average human beings to do extraordinary things is not canceled. Our essential workers in the healthcare field are what firefighters and police were during 9/11. They are on the front lines every single day going into a hospital wrought with this disease to help save lives. The lines on their faces and swelling from wearing a mask for 10 hours show their pain and sacrifice.
Not to be forgotten are the other unspoken heroes. Our grocery store workers, pharmacy employees, garbage collectors, postal service workers, food delivery personnel, and all others that are still deemed essential to work. Delivery workers bringing food to those who can’t leave their house due to pre-existing conditions risking their health goes above and beyond the call of duty. To read and see stories of teachers driving to their students’ homes to wave at them or read to them from a distance on their driveway warms my heart.
Generosity is not canceled. In my local hospital, you can make donations to the Starbucks on campus so that essential hospital employees can get free coffee. People are delivering pizzas to hospital workers, donating PPE, and making homemade masks for those who need them. Our neighbors continually drop treats off in each other’s mailboxes.
Listening is not canceled. Checking in on family members and friends during this time of need just to make sure they are ok and to see if they need anything.
Not canceled is our evening dinner that, due to this pandemic, allows us to spend an hour together each night enjoying a home-cooked meal. Before the pandemic, our lives were scrambled with extracurricular activities that had us eating on staggered schedules, often grabbing something to go from a nearby restaurant. We now sit together as a family and remind each other how important our family unit is.
Our plans for the future are not canceled or they shouldn’t be. We’re not certain what the future will look like but we’re not ready to abandon our dreams. Our plans may be deterred, or need to be altered or stalled at the moment but we know they will one day be back on the table.
Faith is not canceled. It’s times like these that those who believe look deeper into their faith. We gathered around my wife’s IPad for Easter Sunday service. Sure it wasn’t what we were used to but in times of crisis, people need faith more than ever. Don’t forget your church or synagogue during this time who may also be struggling to make ends meet.
Not canceled is singing, dancing, conversation, hobbies, reading, exercise and so much more. Though we need to practice new rules applying to social distancing and we may not be in public, we still have not canceled these activities. Continue to take care of you and everything else will fall into place.
Hope is not canceled. Hope is what keeps us going and is one of the most important things to focus on. We hope that one day soon we will see our friends in person again, attend a concert or go to our favorite restaurant. We hope that those out of work will be employed again. We hope that we can hug and shake hands. Though we may have lost someone we loved, or know someone who was lost during this time, we have to go on and be there for those who need us.
No one knows what the future will bring as this is a time in our lives of great uncertainty. We’re all in this together and we are all connected to this one event. Whether it’s people in Italy singing and playing instruments on their balconies or residents in NYC clapping every night at 7:00 for healthcare workers we all cling to our hope.
I’m lucky to be able to continue to work from home surrounded by my loved ones who I know are safe and sound. I implore anyone reading this to live with compassion for others and remain kind and grateful for all you have, during, and after this pandemic.
Stay healthy and safe and know that not everything is canceled.