When my family and I moved back from Kwajalein to New Jersey, a significant transition to a new normal was necessary. We went from a tropical coral reef island to New Jersey. We went from warmth, oceans breezes and relaxed living to, well, New Jersey. There were suddenly people, lots of people. Hazy, hot and humid became a thing – as did four seasons. People were rushed, busy, chasing after stuff that never existed on Kwajalein. People always seemed to be looking for a distraction. It was, different. Was one way better than the other? My words do give value to how I saw the change. However, as an adult I would have to say, it was just different. Kwajalein was not New Jersey and New Jersey was not Kwajalein. If I could choose now, would I have a preference? Yes, but either way would be a false choice because neither exists as it did then.
With millions of people being vaccinated, a transition is beginning to occur. A new normal is required. It is pointless to think about returning to “what once was”, because that does not exist anymore. We have experienced a pandemic and death as if a war had taken place and peace is not yet established. I would like to believe that such an experience altered our human psyche just a bit. I would like to believe it has caused us to slow down, take more time in caring for ourselves and the relationships around us. I would like to believe that it might have altered our value system and made us more compassionate, and understanding of one another. However, the potential exists for the exact opposite to have occurred. The pandemic could make us less patient, angrier, and less human (i.e. compassionate, caring). Time will tell I guess.
New perspectives on visitation, family, and elder needs are coming into focus. We always knew that isolation for the elderly was not a good thing; I do not know if we realized just how wounding to the spirit it is. We know now. We did, I think, discover how creative we could be in our care. We certainly found ways of using technology that we might not otherwise considered. When help was needed, staff responded and went the extra mile. There are good things to take from this time. I hope we do not forget them for when they are needed again.