Swallowing the bitterness over the past few weeks has been challenging. We’ve watched as the rest of the country and certain individuals shared in their excitement of receiving the vaccination for COVID-19. It was very difficult as we asked ourselves, “Why do we have to wait until Jan. 12?” It seemed like such a long way away. However, our “V day” came and went this week. The impact of this day, however, will be felt for months to come.
In the efficiency of the vaccination day this week, there were times where we had more time available and times when people had to wait. My role for the day was to be a runner, essentially being available for whatever we needed whenever we needed it. Selfishly, I used part of this time to simply connect and reassure our residents. I was smiling so much on Tuesday my face hurt almost as much as my feet. Everyone was smiling. Even though we couldn’t see the grins through the mask. They were there. Eyes sparkled and laughter was loud; proof there were huge smiles under the surgical masks we wore. What I saw in the eyes of everyone I interacted with was hope. Hope for the future and hope for today are equally important.
The emotions of the day ran high. There were so many reasons why this was truly a historic day for all of us here at Friendship Haven. For me personally, it was a day I didn’t know I desperately needed until we were in the thick of it. Sometimes it’s easy to not miss a feeling when it’s been gone for a very long time. Recreating that “feeling” will be an unwavering goal for 2021 and beyond. Recreating, appreciating and enjoying each other immensely will be a welcomed opportunity contrasting with the sadness, disappointment and guilt that was felt for much of 2020. While it sounds pretty dramatic, these are dramatic times, and none of us can afford to hide behind subtleness any longer.
The energy felt by interacting with one another brought life back to our campus. As I listen to the political rhetoric and watch the finger pointing in our world today, Tuesday offered to me the best reminder as to how we, as a community, city, state, and country, can begin to heal.
Tears and sweat from our masks help cleanse the pain from 2020. And experiencing the simplest thing, human interaction, recharged our batteries, and we will be able to create a more meaningful existence in 2021.
Sometimes it’s OK to be last. I am a very competitive person, but on Tuesday it was extremely important to me to be last to get the vaccine. There were times it may have been more efficient for me to jump in when there was an appointment time, but I needed to put others ahead of me. It felt like the right thing to do. What if they ran out? I needed to make sure all that wanted to be vaccinated were vaccinated before me.
The rollout of the vaccination process has certainly been a challenge, and I’m sure it hasn’t been an easy task for those that have been given the responsibility. However, as we look towards solutions and healing, if more people would put others needs ahead of their own, wouldn’t the process be more fulfilling? This goes beyond appointment times for a vaccine. This is certainly a simple truth we’ve all been taught yet, as a society, forget at times to practice.
Solutions are easy, and we realize they take time and energy. Tuesday’s energy as we all got stuck together for the vaccination was proof enough to me that hope does and will heal all that has been taken away. We cannot get the 2020 time back, but we can learn from it and be better tomorrow.
Julie Thorson has served Friendship Haven as its President and CEO since 2012. She started with the life plan community that 360 people call home in 1999. The Fort Dodge Senior High graduate started her career in Broadcast news after attending Iowa Central College and The University of Kansas. Thorson is a coach’s daughter at heart started her career in long term care as a part-time nursing home social worker, she is now recognized as a leader in the field of long-term care.