Don’t let images deceive you. You may think you see everything in my picture after getting the vaccine but you don’t. Let me take you behind the scenes of my life this past year. As I can only imagine what being behind the scenes of your life has been like for you.
What you don’t see in the picture is my yearlong of agony, tears, hard decisions and losses, like all of us. What you don’t see is me having to hold it all together, for myself and for everyone else around me.
What you don’t see is that I felt that nobody, and nowhere was safe, no matter what precautions I took. I felt I was vulnerable. Everyone else was vulnerable. (We still are). And use zoom virtual meetings as you may, the isolation felt almost deadly to my soul and suffocating at the very least.
What you don’t see in the picture is how hard it was sitting through the longest and darkest night of my soul, and bearing witness to others’ darkest nights of their souls. While I reminded myself that it was the darkest right before dawn, to hang on tight, and that even the longest and darkest night ends, I didn’t know how much longer I could hang on to the hope for dawn. It became one day at a time, one shallow breath at a time with a mask on.
What you don’t see in the picture is me writing a letter to the governor, over a week ago, asking her when the COVID vaccine would get rolled out to addiction centers.
What you do see finally is my smile.
Someone said to me, “Finally we see you smile.”
I forgot how to smile this past year; truth be told. I didn’t have to smile. I had a mask on everywhere that I went. A smile was so rare to come by from others, and from myself.
I didn’t realize that this past year, I was pursing my lips and holding my breath while being on this white knuckle COVID ride. Till, I felt my tears as I waited for the fifteen-minute period of monitoring after getting the vaccine. While the tears streamed, I felt my burdens ease a little. My chest felt less heavy.
The lady that took my picture is Judy. She owns a second hand store, where it has been like a ghost town this past year. I hadn’t seen Judy much or frequented her store this past year. While I was waiting on line to get my vaccine, I saw on her Facebook a frame that I was inexplicably drawn to. So, after I received the vaccine, I drove directly to the second-hand store and bought it. Judy stayed 6 feet back, and took my picture post COVID vaccine. She asked me if I wanted to have a second picture taken without the mask. I was hesitant. But, I looked at the serene frame, exhaled and said, “Sure, why not?” She reminded me to show my “dazzling smile”. So, I did, looking at the frame that I just bought.
I am calling the frame: the post COVID vaccine scene. It has blue calm colors, a coffee table and a chair, with a relaxing atmosphere, and a sense of perspective. The frame feels like I am invited to finally sit or rather collapse into the chair, to feel the wind blow. I am invited to look outside of the window and feel that I am finally safe. I can breathe and let go a little.
So, this is what I want you to see in my picture post COVID vaccine: Hope for safety. Hope for dawn. Hope for being together with loved ones in person. Hope for connection again. Hope for wholeness again. Hope for healing. Hope for growth. Hope for change.
PS: I will still take my precautions, wear my mask, wash my hands and physically distance. But now, I do the same precautions with a different intention and perspective, not out of fear, but rather because of hope.