My wife Deb and I missed the birth of our granddaughter this year. We also missed our grandson’s first steps. We used to see our family twice a day, five days a week before the Covid pandemic hit. We did the best we could to keep in touch through Zoom and our home’s glass doors. But touching hands through a glass door is nothing like hugging your grandchildren. Meeting your granddaughter over a webcam is nothing like holding her for the first time.
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan on March 11, which will go a long way to helping defeat the pandemic once and for all.
The bill increases testing and tracing, addresses shortages of PPE, and invests in high-quality treatment. It will also scale up distribution of the vaccine by opening community vaccination sites nationwide.
The Biden Administration has promised 100 million COVID vaccinations would be administered in the U.S. within the first 100 days. In Biden’s first five weeks of office, over 78 million doses have been administered in the U.S. The fact that the number is growing every day is incredibly reassuring.
The sooner most Americans get vaccinated, and have access to tests, the sooner seniors like us will be able to see our family again.
We’ll be that much closer to all the things we haven’t been able to do for months: Having the grandkids over for breakfast before school. Biking to get ice cream. Cheering them on at their soccer games. Building toy boats. Swimming in the pool at the end of our block.
We cannot ignore what was lost. Like many grandparents, Covid cut us off from our usual contacts with our kids and grandkids. Deb has severe asthma and gets pneumonia every couple of years. If she got really sick she might not make it to the hospital. I’m 75, she’s 69. So protecting ourselves meant we lost a year of intergenerational conversations and jokes: the glue of family identity.
We now know what a year without enough federal and state aid looks like in a pandemic. We woke up most days without much hope. For an entire year, President Trump had no national plan, resources, or interest in saving dying Americans. It was like being trapped inside your home, watching a forest fire spread outside, and no one was coming to stop it.
The past year has seen a needless loss of life, and experience. We read in the newspaper that psychologists call this “ambiguous loss” — a grief that comes from losing parts of our lives, normalcy, and predictability. Our grandchildren missed out on classroom memories in elementary school. One day they were able to see their friends two houses down, and the next day they had to say goodbye to them for a year. For the first time in 10 years, we did not celebrate Christmas with a family brunch. Almost every area of our life was impacted.
We care a lot about this state. Deb’s a native of Arizona: She was born and raised in Globe, a little mining town in the Pinal Mountains. We were both teachers when we met. She was teaching home economics at South Mountain High School, and I was teaching computer science to all different ages at Carl Hayden high School. Deb went on to teach high school math at Central High School, and I built robots, engineers and life-long friends.
Over 16,000 Arizonans have died from Covid. We count ourselves lucky not to be among them. We decided to quarantine early on, and watched Arizona’s numbers surge several times throughout the year. Not once, but twice, we had the highest number of Covid cases in the entire world. It means so much that our senators, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema have helped to shape and move the American Rescue Plan. I hope they can inspire their fellow Senators to support it, too.
President Biden has done wonders so far. But we cannot forget what we have lost, because it will help us remember what’s so necessary going forward. Soon, grandparents like us can be with our families again.
Deb and Allan Cameron are retired teachers who live in Phoenix, Arizona.