What have we learned, what will we remember about this pandemic?

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Lynne Cope Hummell

The coronavirus pandemic has given us lots to think about - and lots of time to do that thinking.

We have learned new words, new phrases. "Social distancing" (which, we've come to realize, really means "physical distancing") comes to mind immediately.

The name of the virus that started it all, "coronavirus," is new to many, and the disease itself, "COVID-19," is new.

In a recent New York Times daily newsletter, I learned that the word "masklessness" was first used May 12 in that paper, in an opinion article by Michelle Cottle. The word isn't yet listed in Merriam-Webster.

We have learned that in a crisis situation, not only do first responders jump right into the fray, but so do nurses and doctors and lab technicians. Health care workers have emerged as true heroes, sacrificing their family life to take care of other people's family members.

We will remember how jobs once thought by many to be on a lower scale of importance as well as pay - grocery store clerks, bag boys, gas station attendants - are being respected.

Although I didn't hear of it happening in our Lowcountry world, I'll remember the 7 p.m. salute to health care workers in big cities across the globe. My friends Casey and Nic live across the street from Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, so they can actually see the workers as they come outside the hospital and wave at the noisemakers every evening.

We have learned how important our hair stylists and barbers to our lives, too, haven't we? Other than perhaps bald people and those with long hair anyway, most of the rest of us groan when we look in the mirror. Those who have regular color treatments seem to be particularly eager to get back to a salon.

I have learned increased patience. Grocery pickups were rough at first. We chose to make an online order, and quickly discovered that was a popular choice. Our pickup time was four days later.

I've learned to be patient with noisy, screeching children in the neighborhood. They are as tired of home school as I was after a day of working from home. They were outside, having fun, getting sun and exercise, and just being kids. Maybe I was a little envious of all that energy.

I wonder how the children will remember this time in our collective history. How well did they adapt to forced homeschooling? How did they deal with not being able to hug people outside their families? I will never forget the shocked look on a 3-year-old neighbor's face when her mother held her back when they came for an outdoor visit, and she started toward me for a hug.

Many have lamented, complained and were sad about things they have missed. But how about the things we didn't miss?

A friend posted on social media a list of things she didn't miss, including sports, traffic, crowds, shopping, obnoxious people. I agreed with most of them, especially one item that stood out to me. Has anyone else realized that since the worldwide lockdown, we haven't heard about any mass school shootings?

We will remember gradual shut-downs of schools, businesses, stores, churches and hair salons, and the the gradual getting back to business.

I will remember sitting quietly in my own front yard, waving at neighbors walking past, listening to the increased chirping of birds, feeding an occasional squirrel, chatting with my husband while my feet brush through the grass.

It has been weird indeed. And until all we completely flatten the curve, it's not over. Indeed, it might never be.

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