I thought there would be a cataclysmic event that would bring mankind to their knees and demand either death or change.

But I thought I’d be long gone, and I thought it would be directly tied to the damage we are doing to the environment.

So, I was taken by surprise when faced with a cataclysmic event, not directly tied to climate change and I’m alive.  At first it was going to be the needed wake up call for us, change and watch the environment respond so favorably, water clears, smog disappears, new innovations pop up and we sing kumbaya.  Animals return, violent storms stop, the earth cools, we see the light.

I could never have predicted that we would all be traumatized, scared, and confused.  We are experiencing closed businesses, restaurants only offering take-out, cities and playgrounds shut down, schools scrambling to move on-line and enormous grief as so, so many people die, and our worn-out hospital workers still work.  There are times when I just cry unexpectedly, and I know I am not alone.  It’s all just so sad and overwhelming.

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On top of this the political war rages on with misinformation, taking sides, ridicule, lies, attacks and denial. 

As all this is settling into our psyches, one too many Black people die needlessly, violently, wrongly, and deliberately.  And we react, not a little, but big.  Demonstrations that go on for weeks, sometimes peaceful, sometimes violent, always confusing and right and relentless.  People will not stop showing up to demonstrate and demand change and more deaths of Black people come to light.  

And the pandemic continues, the virus does not care about anything except finding more hosts to continue its life.  You can be a really good person, or a really bad person and the virus does not care.  Young and especially old people are hospitalized and get very sick and some die.  Some people get the virus and never know it.  It is unpredictable and erratic and alive and well.  In all this, scientists have made progress.  Treatment is better, precautions are more reliable when used, some countries begin to get the upper hand and they don’t want Americans to visit.  

We just cannot unite and face the common peril.  Some of us have to have our rights: “You can’t make me wear a mask.”  “I should be able to go to the beach and the bar.”  “I want to have a party with all my friends.”  “We are celebrating my mom’s 90th.”  “When will the casinos open?”  

On the other hand, my neighborhood app shows a huge outpouring of offers to help, free masks, support for Black Lives Matter, free food, and some funny dog pictures. I experience kindness, consideration and social distancing every day.  

My neighbors are friendly and considerate, and we now have a regular dog party outside my condo most evenings.  They even tolerate my little terrier who thinks she is top dog. The pit-bull/massive mix is a little cautious around her. Fortunately for me all the people think she’s cute and they tolerate her terrierness. 

In the midst of all this, I’ve made the decision to go forward with a kitchen remodel. I started the process before mid-March and the contractor continued to follow up until I decided to go forward. It feels wrong at times and right at times for all sorts of reasons.  

I’ll be displaced for 10 to 12 days, staying in a friend’s basement apartment that happens to be available. He and his wife have been so accommodating and it will be nice to avoid the noise and mess of construction. Right or wrong, we are going forward.

The fourth of July weekend brought people out, good or bad. I’ve become resigned to the fact that this will end with a vaccine and until then we just have to do the best we can.  It does seem more and more apparent that the virus is transmitted from fluid, a sneeze or cough, maybe just talking if two people are close enough. Costco even put the coffee grinders back.

Conversation with family and friends make it apparent that we are not unified. A family friend is a front-line worker. He is a wonderful person, dedicated dad, husband and professional. He does not wear a mask and moves about freely. He is also ready to defend the police force for whatever they’ve done during the demonstrations.

I didn’t have any heart to argue, especially since he and his family are all fine.  I’m sure they take some precautions and minimize risks and I know there is a brotherhood among first-line public servants.  

I would not have guessed that life would go on in so many ways, with adjustments here and there to avoid getting sick. But that is what we seem to be doing and consequences will follow one way or the other for all of us. 

I hope I’m around way after the fact to see what the perspective is then and I hope we turn out better for the events. 

Joan Bancroft is a retired elementary school teacher living in Arvada.