Living Well, Dying Well

Mary Friedel-Hunt

As I write this on Dec. 12, vaccines for the COVID-19 virus are being put in boxes of deep cold storage and loaded onto airplanes to be flown to locations for distribution to our essential medical people, who have given so much during this pandemic, and to those in assisted living and nursing homes who have had a year of far too much death and fear and far too few visitors.

It happens to be the weekend of Gaudete Sunday in Advent — a time to rejoice. Now these meds so quickly created can do what our beloved scientists planned for them to do: help control this virus.

This is a time of gratitude to these scientists who worked day and night to create the vaccine that will hopefully reverse the spread of this killer virus in time, and to those doctors, nurses, and all support staff — some of whom gave their lives and some whose lives were threatened on each and every day of this past year. These people are heroes as they put in 12-hour days, left their families in many instances so as not to infect them, and shed blood, sweat and tears to save lives. I know each and every one of us is deeply grateful to each and every one of them.

I will rest easier personally knowing that my brother, who survived COVID in his assisted living facility, will be one of those vaccine recipients. Jim is a Catholic priest who has been caring and kind all his life. Now 83, Jim is struggling with Parkinson’s, which has caused him to be all but blind and experience hallucinations. (He has figured out “if those I think I am seeing do not answer, I know I am hallucinating.”) I will rest easier because all staff there will be vaccinated and as visiting families and friends get vaccinated, residents will once again rejoice to see them and hug them. In spite of so much being troublesome with his life there, Jim maintains a wonderful attitude. 

I know there are so many across our nation rejoicing knowing a vaccine is here and the rest is on the way. Yes, it will take several months to get everyone vaccinated. But soon grandparents who have not been able to hug their grands or even see a new grandbaby will be rejoicing. Workers in all fields who go to work fearing contagion and trying to stay away from those who refuse to wear masks will rest easier and our exhausted teachers, students and parents can now see a light in this long tunnel. 

Let us put aside our anger and celebrate this achievement; let us hope those who fear vaccines or resist them will do themselves and others a favor and use this tool. Let us move into this new year with hope and gratitude in our hearts, and kindness in our interactions. 

Mary Friedel-Hunt has retired after 50 years of practice as a licensed clinical social worker and certified bereavement counselor. She can be reached at mfhunt44@gmail.com or P.O. Box 1036, Spring Green, WI 53588.