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  • Writer's picture Brian E Pearson

Friends in Need

If there is any up side to the invasion of the coronavirus, surely it is the renewed sense of community the world is feeling right now. But first some of us had to get there.

Photo Credit: NBC News

Just a week ago I scoffed when an old friend recoiled from the hug I tried to give her. She was practising restraint, she said, in anticipation of the looming pandemic. As several small events I was booked to attend were cancelled, I thought, Come on, people, you're all overreacting! Then, with the news reports of frenzied shopping sprees and emptied grocery shelves, it confirmed that everyone was just getting hysterical.

Jean and I were planning to host a dinner party on Saturday night, a gathering of the readers who have been previewing my memoir. They were going to deliver their impressions and responses over a nice meal and good wine. I was looking f0rward both to their comments and to the event itself. I'm anxious to get on with the remaining work and, finally, be done with the thing.

Then the virus hit our shores. Medical authorities weighed in on its dangers, politicians made pronouncements, and civic-minded institutions closed their doors. I thought I should give our guests the courtesy of a re-think. Two immediately said they were still in. But one had just spent time with a friend who'd been out of the country and was experiencing flu-like symptoms. She bowed out. Another was caring for his wife who has just started home dialysis, for which the two of them have had to take rigorous precautions against infection, which could kill her. He couldn't risk coming, he said, for her sake.

That's when I rounded the corner and saw the light. It was time for restraint, not for the symptoms I don't yet have, nor for the infection I don't actually fear, but for the sake of the other--my friend, my brother or sister, my neighbour, and the nameless person at the end of many degrees of separation who will die from COVID-19, should they contract it.

As I yielded to the worldwide movement to slow the spread of the virus, I found myself part of a community of caring people, each one thinking not just of their own health and safety, but of those more susceptible than themselves. It's a community of self-sacrificing caregivers giving up convenience and comfort and, in some cases, income, to protect those most vulnerable among us.

I'm so glad I came round. It turns out, this is the community I've been searching for all along.

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