This weekend our University is once again holding its Holiday Craft Fair and I was looking forward to going.  The Fair is held in the University’s cavernous gymnasium and is always filled with artisans, joyful voices, and the aromas of fresh baked goods. There would be so much to look at and admire —  jewelry, wood products, gourmet specialty foods, paintings, art, pottery, fabric art, knit items, soaps, and so much more!

Through the years the SO and I have enjoyed taking the grandboys to the Fair. They had fun picking out presents for their parents and Xmas tree decorations.  And there was always some kid friendly event or two set up — something to climb, slide, or jump upon. 

We would do our own shopping and support local artisans in doing so. And we’d get to see familiar faces from the community. 

This morning I was ready to go downstairs and ask the SO when he’d like to leave for the Fair. Then reality came crashing through. 

Maine has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. In spite of that we’re seeing record high Covid cases and hospitilizations. 

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine reached a pandemic high on Friday, and some health officials are wondering how much worse things could get as winter approaches….

…Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine’s CDC director, said Wednesday that the virus is spreading primarily among unvaccinated people in rural areas, where residents were largely spared from the first wave of the pandemic. He said unvaccinated people account for 86 percent of all COVID-19 cases since vaccines became widely available last spring, while 99 percent of vaccinated people have not contracted the disease.

My county has the highest vaccination rate in Maine. In spite of that we’re seeing high community spread. 

For over a month cases have been high and getting higher. The Delta variant of Covid is burning through the unvaccinated while they are causing breakthrough cases. The death count is mounting. 

We haven’t seen our ICU CC RN son for weeks because of it. The SO and I are both high risk and he will not chance bringing the virus home to us. If he did so he’s certain we would die. 

The worry for my youngest daughter and her family, including two of my grand sons, has not stopped. They refuse to get vaccinated. 

I’m just waiting for news that one of them is sick.

I’m praying that my son makes it through intact. 

Our frontline health care workers are exhausted. They’ve been seeing far too many people suffer. Had to put far too many in body bags.  They have been accused of being liars or of “virtue signaling” when they try to explain the reality of our ER’s and ICU’s.

This is not what they signed up for. 

“Our folks are fried. They are burned out,” said Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association. “A nurse friend said to me recently that what used to be a bad day is now every day.”

My son loves being a nurse.  He works hard, keeps training, and cares about his co-workers deeply. They have all been suffering. 

Survey: 2/3 of Critical Care Nurses Consider Quitting Due to COVID-19

Sept. 20, 2021 — Critical care nurse Beth Wathen has been looking after seriously ill patients for 35 years. But nothing could have prepared her for the last 18 months.

Wathen, who works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said it is impossible to describe the overwhelming death and despair she has seen since COVID-19 began to fill hospitals to the brim.

“It is hard to know just how devastating this pandemic has been if you’re not in the ICU,” she says. “Seeing these poor patients dying without family at their bedside. Watching people say goodbye to spouses FaceTime.”

“This entire pandemic has been heartbreaking.”….

It has been a year and a half of worrying about my Critical Care RN son. It has been months of worrying about loved ones — family and friends.  More recently there have been growing weeks of trying to comfort friends whose loved ones struggled with covid to either survive ravaged, life forever altered, or died. 

All of that disappeared for a few minutes this morning — the long months of uncertainty, worry, grief and fear vanished. 

For a few moments what had once been normal reappeared. 

It felt so good. It was lovely to look forward to something. To not worry. 

Couldn’t wait to wind our way through the Craft Fair’s crowd, stopping at vendor after vendor to pick out presents for family and friends, enjoying the familiar smells and sounds, appreciating the craftmanship of the artisans. 

Then it all vanished, gone, buried beneath today’s rising Covid case and death count — leaving behind sorrow and exhaustion. 

That I momentarily forgot what we’ve all been struggling with was surreal. So was returning to this nightmare normal. 

The wave of grief that hit, a shock to the system.  

I hadn’t fully realized the cost of the last eighteen months.

We’re so used to carrying on. To doing the right necessary thing.  We get vaccinated and wear masks. We’ve been staying strong. Hopeful. Apparently, it can be dangerous to hope these days. 

How long must we go on like this?

How long must our loved ones and ourselves be held hostage by the unthinking, uncaring, unresponsible minority?

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We’re trapped in a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated and it must stop. 

It simply does not have to be like this. 

In a caring, sane, world — it wouldn’t. 

For a few moments this morning I felt free to be, safe to engage in simple, normal things. 

It was an illusion brought about by forgetting what we have and are enduring. 

It’s dangerous to forget. 

We mask up when we go to the grocery store and see far too many people not wearing masks. 

They have forgotten, if they ever knew. 

We pick up take out and see booths filled with people not wearing masks. 

They have forgotten, if they ever knew. 

We’re juggling two diametrically opposed worlds. 

We’re all experiencing those jarring surreal moments when it feels like those worlds collide.

Be careful out there. 

Stay safe and go gentle. 

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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