At the beginning of the pandemic, when gas was $1.78 a gallon and we kept our tanks full because who knew — who knew? — if the apocalypse was nigh and we’d need fuel to get across town to the home of the relative who’d stockpiled toilet paper and canned goods — a poem started circulating on social media, the way things circulate for good or bad, for right or wrong.
It went something like this: When this is all over may we never again take for granted a handshake with a stranger...
A crowded theater...
Coffee with a friend …
The words Laura Kelly Fanucci wrote made your throat close. The thought of what we had and then didn’t — so suddenly — have anymore.
We thought about that more — and then less — as time passed. The two weeks or six weeks or eight weeks of getting this crazy Wuhan (Chinese-COVID-19-SARS-Cov-2-Rona) virus under control, so we could go back to the way it was before.
We waited. We pivoted, donated, isolated, hunkered, quarantined. Zoomed, read, exercised, meditated, ordered comfort food, comforted each other.
We did spring, summer, fall.
No one we knew got sick. Someone we knew got sick. More people we knew. They got very sick, they died, their noses ran, it was awful, horrendous, terrible. It was nothing.
We put off graduations, funerals, weddings, baptisms, baby showers, dental appointments, massages, vacations.
We delayed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas. We ended preschool, play dates, we shut down Chuck E. Cheese.
We went remote.
We remembered the hacking cough we had last February, the two days we couldn’t smell or taste.
We called Anthony Fauci a wise man, we called him a scoundrel, a liar.
We gave blood and marched through Target without our masks. We called grocery store clerks heroes and rule-followers sheeple.
We sewed face masks for strangers and derided them as useless. Lifesavers. Tools of oppression.
It all got tiresome.
We got tired.
We fought like siblings in the backseat of the car on a very long vacation.
We loved each other — deep down — and we hated each other, deep down.
We hated the media, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, the commissioner of the Big Ten. We loved cooking, takeout, Netflix, bike trails, sunsets, songs of people all singing the same thing in their empty living rooms.
People kept dying, mothers, fathers, grandparents. They were old, we said. They would have died of something anyway, we said. They didn’t really die of COVID, we said. We said, we said, we said.
A hundred people died, 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, 200,000, 300,000. More.
We said that was my grandfather. My mom. My brother, my daughter, my teacher, my doctor, my neighbor, my minister.
The billionaires got richer, the corner stores closed, the diners shuttered.
We watched church on a laptop, we watched football on a flat-screen, the cheers piped in, the fans cardboard.
We made the best of it.
We argued about the truth. We believed our public health leaders, we sent them flowers, we sent them death threats, drove them to resign.
We got quieter, deeper, angrier. We were content, transformed, at peace, confused.
We looked up at the Christmas star. We were enthralled. We were disappointed.
We forgot what our desks looked like. Whose face that was under the mask.
We parsed data to prove our point. We swallowed Vitamin C and Vitamin D, we took zinc, we measured our blood oxygen, took our temperatures. We prayed. We mocked.
We became more partisan than even we thought possible.
We did not give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Although we still could. Although we still can.
We kicked 2020 out the door with hope and hoopla.
We longed for the vaccine, we refused to take it.
And we waited for the day — the day so far from here — when we could say: When this is all over…
And have it be so.
Columns from an upside-down year: Soups and scones
This story is about nostalgia -- so many of us, packed so close together in the pursuit of good soup and scones. It gives me hope that those days will return.
Columns from an upside-down year: Remembering Chuck E. Cheese
Sometimes it's the little things that put a lump in your throat, like not knowing that the last time you took your sweet grandson to the germ-infested arcade parlor he loved would be the last time.
Columns from an upside-down year: Dying alone
So much pain during the pandemic, but none worse than the grief of families and health care workers as so many die alone in the hospital.
Columns from an upside-down year: An ugly baby?
Who doesn't love an ugly baby story?
Columns from an upside-down year: The Angel in Room 255
A story about hope and goodness and friendship at a time when people needed to hear about the angels of this world.
City Council distancing
Gameday empty Saturday
Thank you Bryan West
No fans allowed
Volleyball social distancing
Boo at the Zoo
Downtown mask art
Marching band competition
East Campus proposed budget cuts
No Football Saturday
UNL in-person class
Farmers Market influencers
Weeping Water vs. Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan
First day of middle school
First day of school
Pius X volleyball practice
City Council BLM protest
Rally and hearing
Lancaster County Super Fair
LPS board meeting
Meatpacking workers rally
Lincoln Northeast graduation
Gov. Ricketts address Legislature
Masked Archie the Mammoth
First Jury Trial in Four Months
Lincoln Community Playhouse
The Kindler Hotel
Garth Brooks Drive-In Concert
Urban Air Adventure Park
Gere Branch Library
Music on the Move
Bars Opening in Lincoln
LPS Teachers Retirement
Holmes Lake Manor Horse Visit
Lancaster County Courthouse
Church Social Distancing
Children of Smithfield
Parkview Christian Teacher Appreciation Day
Lincoln Christian 2020 Seniors
Test Nebraska site
Drive-Thru Career Fair
Center for People In Need food distribution
Masks For Truckers
Teacher and Staff Parade
Virtual City Council
Good Friday Music
Masks on a walk
Watch: A timelapse of the mural at Saro Cider
Watch: Hand sanitizer rolls off Innovation Campus assembly line
No fun here
Tower Square sign
WATCH: Celebrating a birthday with a parade
Simpsons in the windows
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing
UNL Beekeeping virtual class
Lincoln Lutheran Online Teaching
Blue for public health
Basketball without fans
Thanksgiving to go
Socially distant Santa
Christmas tree demand
Basketball fans reduced
Legislature First Day
Zoo Bar membership
New high school
Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @TheRealCLK