This story is by Dawn DiLuigi and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Life is good…and so it was. Ambling along in my unknowing state of retirement bliss-I was all wrapped up in my books, my writing, my new friends, my new hobbies, and walking the exciting path my newfound freedom had paved for me. After a joyful 42-year educational career, I found myself with tons of something I hadn’t known since childhood-TIME! The Pharrell Williams song, Happy became my theme…and within that shallow breath of a few short months filled with adventures, travels, rediscovering of family, new grandchildren, and recapturing my insatiable childlike curiosity, an invisible enemy swooped down, eating chunks of the world I once treasured. It was silent, discrete, and quiet…all within the chasm found between the New Year and Friday, the 13th of March.
2020 began with all the promise and possibilities of a truly great year-and why not? What could possibly happen? Unbeknownst to most, the world was changing dramatically, one longitude line at a time-my euphoria was about to come to a screeching halt.
Blowing into my life with the March winds came The Virus-the exact thing for which I had no plan, no defense, no answers, and certainly no tolerance. The one thing I knew for certain was that I wasn’t prepared for it. And like all of our life surprises, it was well-prepared for me! I didn’t have time to think-and this was not unusual! My peaceful, unclouded life turned quickly into a muddied, frenzied state of utter confusion.
The world that I knew took a dramatic turn, certainly the realization that freedoms, once taken for granted were being removed—some slowly, and some very, very rapidly! It came at us like a hard punch we were unprepared for and couldn’t possibly escape. My carefree, “don’t worry be happy” attitude was replaced by an alien, four-letter word. I called it-FEAR!
My FEAR quickly replaced HAPPY. And my NO quickly replaced YES! No school. No church. No movies. No gatherings. No shopping mall. No gym. No park. No theater. No weddings. No funerals. No travel. No LIFE!
Fear of the virus. Fear of germs. Fear of spreading. Fear of people. Fear of travel. Fear of closed space. Fear of coughing. Fear of Sneezing. Fear of LIFE!
The mere idea of complete isolation soon sent me kicking and screaming into a TOTAL state of complete non-acceptance and non-compliance mode. And as we now know, what was once a two-week “pause” to slow the spread, droned on into weeks, months and finally became the one-year and still counting LIFE. The dust particles that were LEFT BEHIND in the fallout of this dreadful VIRUS have now morphed for me into my fate worse than death which led me to ask, “Have we lost my America?”
Over this past year we’ve seen too many things that The Virus has interrupted: Life is one of them. But in addition to that, we are coming upon the precipice of some serious questions altering our country’s future. What have we lost in America? For some it is our basic freedoms that we once took for granted….for others we know that The Virus has claimed lives that can never be replaced. The heartache of The Virus continues to poke at our way of life outlined in our founding documents: The Declaration of Independence; The Constitution; and The Bill of Rights. It poked at: equality, inequality, justice, education, multiculturalism, censorship; societal ills, social injustices, our freedoms, and also the lack thereof. It poked at all the good and the bad that make up my America.
Life was good…and so it was…But, what have we LOST? Is The Virus the price we paid to wake up to create a better America? Or, is it the fate worse than death; the loss of America that’s too great to regain? It’s really up to us…We the people – let’s not be too afraid to rise up and take it back!