In My Own Words: Emerging from the Pandemic

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Sometimes I forget to take a mask with me, so I’ve been keeping extras in the car. I’ve felt weird walking into buildings or homes without wearing a mask: the former normal now seems a bit abnormal. I’m still wearing masks when going shopping and still limit the number of places I go. Informal “I’m just looking” shopping still rarely happens. There are still places I have to wear a mask and I don’t mind because my preference is to err on the side of caution.

That’s a summary of what life is like now that we are emerging from the pandemic. Please note that I didn’t say “now that the pandemic is over” because it isn’t. The Delta variation of the virus has reached our shores and there are far too many unvaccinated people to say this illness is completely under control. It might even be reoccurring, requiring us to get yearly shots, much like we do with the flu. Of course, no one knows what will happen because so much about the virus is still unknown.

I am doing more than I thought I would. Go to a restaurant? My first reaction was “forget about it!” Then I remembered that one purpose of getting the vaccine was so that life could start to resemble the pre-2020 normal. So, I have eaten out a few times and felt comfortable doing so, although it’s still a rare occurrence.

There are places I am required to wear a mask and one of those is my mom’s nursing home. But we are now allowed to visit any time during regular visiting hours so I can go to her room and just hang out. Spending time together was what we did before it was no longer safe for her to be at home. I can’t go to the dining room or the lounge, but I can take her outside. Of course, this all depends on the number of virus cases in our area staying low. If the rules change back, then we might have to schedule visits again.

Reporter staff are still mostly working from home this summer. We figured it was easier since Camp JCC includes young children who can’t get vaccinated yet. This way, we stay safe and help the campers stay safe. One good thing is that I can still sleep in a bit each morning; the not-so-great side is not having air conditioning during the hotter summer days. But I’m managing.

I am not the only one, though, who’s found that life during the pandemic has had its blessings. Things are starting to get hectic again and the quieter pace of the pandemic suited me. There were fewer choices to make and decisions to juggle: now I have to choose whether to go somewhere and how much running around I do. Before I had no choice: I wasn’t allowed in many of the places that I would normally go.

While I will be glad when the pandemic is behind us, I do want life to stay quieter and easier. A great deal of that is beyond my control – just like it was during the pandemic – but I need to reconsider my obligations based on my new energy level. All of us can think about what really matters and what doesn’t. We need to mourn those who are no longer with us and connect with the people who are important to us. And we need to make certain the lessons we’ve learned do not get lost in the hustle and bustle of the everyday non-pandemic world.