Stephanie Hayes: How do we deal with hopelessness? | Housing & lifestyle


Do you remember the year 1870, when we rode horse-drawn carriages and wrote letters with quills and the coronavirus pandemic began? We’d say things like, “If we can get through this year, it’ll be a miracle!” And we baked bread and put on stretch pants, which was cute for a while.

No longer! Every morning my eyes pop up and I ask the heavens: is that a tickle in the throat or a breakthrough? Who will die today who didn’t have to?

Which plans require a risk analysis? Are the children safe? Which friend is going to post a disappointing social media screed? Should I open the internet or stick hot needles under my fingernails?

We have entered a new level of despair, unlike in 2020. It was then that hope emerged, the promise of a scientific cure. And vaccines came. Do you remember waking up early to get an appointment? Do you remember the people standing in line hoping to get an extra dose?

Maybe we could stop sorting laundry into socks, underwear, and masks. Perhaps we could retire “another grim milestone”. Maybe we would never attend another Godforsaken Zoom baby shower again. Patty still doesn’t know how to mute!

But here we are at another grim milestone. The Delta variant devastates the country. In states like Florida and Texas, the heads of state and government issue decrees against security. Just in time for the start of school, more children are admitted to the hospital.

This new fear? It comes when the test is open, but we’d rather fail.

If, like me, you can get by with a little existential anxiety in the morning, then congratulations. Think of the hospital workers bagging corpses or listening to people on deathbeds deny reality. Think of people with severe mental illness.

Vaccine refusers cling to the obsession with being judged. The “can’t we all just get along” is blank, as if disapproving public health measures is the same as ordering a medium-sized burger. They think positivity and optimism will end this.

Jeezum Crow, the optimism is low. There is a small reserve in the coin pocket for emergencies.

It is too late to stop this wave, but not the next. People come around. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say vaccinations have increased by about 70% nationwide. There is a way to go, but this is the way. We still have to believe.

If you’ve changed your mind, thank you, thank you, thank you. If you’re still on the fence, it’s not too late. Get really honest, sleep on it, open your eyes and see what happens.

– Stephanie Hayes is a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her on Twitter: @StephHayes and Instagram: @StephHayes. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are their own.