Looking back through the months of this year I can’t help but feel robbed.

I wonder if I overreacted in the early months of COVID-19’s presence in Alabama. I missed months of spending time with my family, thrifting, and generally doing anything. I haven’t seen any of my friends this year.

Hindsight is 20/20. I probably could have safely ridden in the car with my mother before September. Maybe I could have met a friend for lunch at the park. Maybe going in Walmart in August wouldn’t have hurt me.

Hindsight.

But the disease was new. I didn’t know whether opening my mail or not sanitizing my groceries was going to kill us all. There were times when I seriously thought to myself, “How strange. I could catch the coronavirus and be dead from it this time next week.”

Maybe I wouldn’t have been so strict if we hadn’t celebrated a birthday outside at my in-laws and then the boy got a terrible fever two days later. It wasn’t COVID. But I panicked at the thought that it could have been, and we could have gotten everyone sick because he helped blow out the candles. That’s how easy it would have been.

There was a Friday in October when I decided we were throwing the rules out. I couldn’t take it anymore. I let my family hold the baby. I let Michael’s family eat pizza in our living room. I even let my kids visit them next door for an afternoon.

It was just supposed to be for that weekend. We needed a break from being careful.

But it’s like breaking a diet. That first piece of cake just leads to more cake.

I let the boy go in Goodwill a few times. His dad took him to Home Depot. I had a yard sale at my sister’s house. 

I took both of my kids into the store once because I thought “This is ridiculous. I can’t call Mama or wait for Michael to get home every time I need to pick up something from town.” But, no one in the store was wearing a mask except the people who worked there. And the cashier, whose mask was hanging way down below her nose, sneezed four times as we were checking out. So that put an end to me just casually running to the store again.

This probably sounds silly to some people. Because I know a lot of people are living much more normal lives than this.

But I just can’t go completely back to normal. The nearly 250,000 Americans who have died this year from COVID are never far from my mind. And in a sense, it gives me peace knowing that I haven’t had the coronavirus or given it to anyone.

And if I get it and give it to someone, it probably won’t be because I was being extremely careless.

It seems like it’s just now really getting here. In Jackson County I mean. I wonder if I can go back to not seeing my family. I wonder if I can go back to not going thrifting every week (the new layout at the Goodwill has really got me hooked again and not going anywhere all year has wreaked havoc on my frugality).

I wonder if I can be as careful as I was before. I think I halfway think that if I can be really careful it might make up for all of those people out there who aren’t being careful at all. 

Anyway I guess I’m tired of talking about COVID-19 by now. On a totally unrelated note, I started a public Instagram account. You can follow me at what_dan_does. So far it’s only a terrible picture and story of some coyotes in our field.

Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at danielle.w.kirkland@gmail.com.

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