Cookie Schwaeber-Issan

Are We Nearing The End?

A Personal Covid Metaphor

No matter how bad you think 2021 was, just knowing that a new year, with promise, was about to unfold probably somehow got you through the last few weeks of December.  After all, a new year represents leaving the past behind and looking forward to a better tomorrow.  In fact, I also very much shared these thoughts. So who would have guessed that with only two more days to go to 2022, my life would come to a screeching halt as I seriously threw out my back, leaving me unable to function at any level.

In a desperate attempt to find some kind of relief, I tried deep massage, cupping, acupuncture, even a shot of Voltaren, at an urgent care facility, which promised to get me breakdancing within 30 minutes, but nothing helped. During this miserable process, it seemed very reminiscent to me of our many unsuccessful attempts to defeat Covid over the last two years.

We’ve tried all of the conventional wisdom, but here we are – finding ourselves in, yet, a new predicament, with the latest prediction being an estimated 50,000 infected per day – a number that is expected to sweep right through our country of 9.5 million.

Right from the beginning, Israel has been in the forefront of attempting to flatten the curve and outrun the virus.  With the best medical minds and advanced technology, who could have done it faster or better than us?  We gave it our all, and sometimes it actually looked as if we were making progress to the point where we could almost utter the words, “The worst is now behind us.”  Yet, the next wave somehow, once again, appeared, making it clear that we were not yet done. So we continued to look for other solutions.

That’s kind of how I felt a couple of days ago when I finally paid a visit to my chiropractor friend, Daniel. Having already exhausted all the possibilities that I thought would help my situation, I can’t say that I walked into his clinic with much hope, but after one treatment, I began to feel light at the end of the tunnel.  I could suddenly sit, turn, walk, even make dinner!  Wow, what a relief to feel as if I returned to the land of the living.  Sadly, going to sleep that night set me back and, once again, ended up with agonizing pain in the morning.  Yet, another trip put me back on the right path.  I still have a long way to go, but I’m not in despair as I had been.

All this is pretty much what’s going on in the world of Covid.  Just as the Delta strain was waning, we were reminded that Covid comes in other forms – this time Omicron, but the good news is that the strain is far more manageable.  Yes, just about everyone I know is getting it or knows someone who is getting it.  Whole communities are being overrun by the virus, but maybe, just maybe, that’s our particular light at the end of the tunnel.

While the 50,000 per day number sounds ominous and almost incredulous, it’s not the issue upon which we should focus.  If this variant does act like a two-day cold, as we’ve been told, then we need to concentrate on the lack of hospitalizations and mortality, and, to the extent that those numbers don’t rise, then we are likely on our way to a massive “herd immunity” which could be the best news of 2022!

What’s really important is not to lose sight of life.  As like every year, I receive those family and friends’ newsletters which sum up how things went over the course of the last year for them.  While reading this year’s batch, I noticed one common theme.  Most everyone described 2021 as “very challenging,” “experiencing the loss of gatherings and a general feeling of alienation.” Everyone was happy to see the end of another devastating year.

Those sentiments were certainly relatable as we all felt the loss of so many freedoms, the inability to come and go as we once did and the loneliness that resulted from multiple lockdowns.

So it was natural to look to 2022 as a fresh opportunity to turn things around, beat this cursed plague and resume our cherished lives with great enthusiasm and renewed appreciation.  Unfortunately, those aspirations may have to wait a while until enough of us have recovered from this current wave which is emptying store shelves of home test kits and making highway exits impassable while lines of cars pile up for kilometers as they wait their turn to enter test centers which, in the case of my city, is inconveniently located just off the major freeway.

But with such a massive contagion, how could we not believe we are nearing the end? For if we don’t believe that, how are we able to hold our heads up with any sense of purpose, anticipation or hopeful expectancy?  Above all else, we must not allow ourselves to feel despondent as if we are stuck in the film Groundhog Day.

Right now, I’m still in a lot of pain, but I can walk, get up from a chair, albeit very slowly and using great care.  I’m taking baby steps, but I believe I am on my way back to full functioning because to believe less would be to remain in a dark place which is too painful and too inconsolable to endure.  So I choose to acknowledge that I’m a bit better off than I was yesterday, and, perhaps, that’s how we should determine to start off the year 2022.

We’re not there yet.  The pain can still be felt, but Omicron is a bit more preferable to Delta.  It’s attacking vaccinated and non-vaccinated alike, so we’re all in this together.  In that sense, Omicron has united all of us so that we are no longer in two camps, and that, alone, is some good news!

So in the midst of all the scary and ominous predictions, there remains a ray of hope which beckons our attention, and from where I sit, grateful to even be able to sit and write this first blog post of 2022, I wish Kol Beit Israel a speedy recovery in this new year and the renewed hope that something much better lies ahead!

Am Yisrael Chai in the year 2022!!!

About the Author
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.