The way I remember it, March 11, 2020, was a tipping point.
Not the tipping point. The past 365 days have been strange, unusual, unprecedented (ugh, that word), and it makes sense that there’d be more than one tipping point. But, I specifically remember March 11, 2020.
On that day, the actor, Tom Hanks, announced that he had Covid-19. If it had been another celebrity, perhaps I wouldn’t have been as shocked, but Tom Hanks? The actor who’s played an astronaut and an airline pilot and a castaway and Mr. Rogers? The guy who’s in 90% of my flypaper movies (you know, the movies that stick with you, make you pause and settle in and watch again, even if you’ve seen them many times before)? That Tom Hanks?
When he made his announcement, there were approximately 1270 cases in the U. S., and the U.S. death toll was at 38. As I remember it, there seemed to be a lot of debate over whether we needed more caution or could proceed with life as usual.
At that point, the numbers told an abstract story for most of us, something we should pay attention to but not something that affected us personally. There were warning flags, changes in supply chains and office protocols and travel plans. And, of course, there was sympathy for the people who were sick, empathy for the loved ones of those who’d died. Nevertheless, we (I) wanted to believe that we’d be safe, as long as we washed our hands and stayed home most of the time.
But then, Tom Hanks made his announcement. America’s Dad was sick.
That same evening, not long after the Tom Hanks news broke, the NBA announced the indefinite suspension of the 2019-2020 season due to a positive Covid-19 test of a Utah Jazz team member. I’m not a sportsy person and don’t watch basketball, but I had the news on and therefore learned of the NBA announcement right away.
That announcement, in tandem with the Tom Hanks info, shattered my illusion of invincibility. I suspect it did the same for other people. Covid-19 was no longer something that was happening in the background. It could happen to anybody; it could affect us all.
Sitting in my living room, watching the news, I heard an imaginary creak and a crash, the sounds of the familiar world leaning and then falling over, landing in a heap on the floor.
Now, here it is, one year later. March 11, 2021. The numbers are so much higher; the question of whether caution was (is) warranted has been answered. Most of us have gone from being abstract observers to having personal experiences of pandemic loss and illness and terrible change. Many have gained unwanted perspective and dark wisdom, lessons from 365 days of unprecedented (ugh, that word) circumstances. It is easy to focus on the awfulness; there is so much readily available.
However. But. And.
There’s now something new, something that didn’t exist 365 days ago. We have vaccines, along with more information, better knowledge, tools and resources. We have a little bit of hope, made possible by time and action and awareness.
I wouldn’t say we’ve hit a tipping point toward the positive just yet. We’re bobbing in the waves, ready for that moment when it all turns. It’s still so delicately balanced; a slight push could tilt us backward. But, we’re ready. The shift could happen soon.
This morning, I spent a few minutes enjoying the blooms on the trees in my backyard. Delicate pink and white blossoms, soft green leaves; symbols of Spring.
I don’t remember noticing them last year. I’m grateful for them today.