Every day a fresh start
Dear Fred, For the past 10 weeks, I have been writing to you there in some future newsroom in the year 2120. It is my conceit that you have been assigned the task of putting together The Star News’ 100th anniversary recap of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted the area.
Perhaps you are reading these in the dusty print volumes still stored in sturdy wooden cupboards in the basement of The Star News’ downtown office. I can still remember the weeks that it took Bob Tacke to build them and his attention to the small details for something as seemingly insignificant as a set of backroom cabinets that would never be seen by anyone who didn’t work there. It is always humbling to go into the basement and open the cabinet that contains the volumes from the past 24 years I have been with paper. I note that it is just one of several equal cabinets spanning the decades since Medford was a mud-street frontier logging town just as there will be many more volumes after my time here is done.
While you could be reading this in its original print form, it is just as likely that in 100 years you are skimming these columns through some technological gizmo that would be as far beyond my imagination as MTV would have been to the Founding Fathers.
While I have addressed this series of columns to you, Future Reporter Fred, they have been equally addressed to the current readers with the hope of providing some context to the confusion of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many ways, it is also to help me process everything that is going on and help give it some meaning.
Searching for meaning in chaotic situations is a common human trait. We want to feel like there is a purpose for the misery that surrounds us. Before science could provide explanations for storms, pestilence, volcanoes and earthquakes, people sought meaning in them as being signs that gods were punishing mankind for misdeeds. While the idea of pinning calamities on people’s failure to repent has fallen out of favor, the search for meaning hasn’t.
A year ago this week, my world ended. Or at least it felt at the time like it had. I had been busy with the end of school year and graduation coverage. The phone call from my sister on her way to the hospital telling me my father had died hit me like a body blow. Despite the passage of time, I still feel the loss, much like how damp weather brings out the memory of every past joint injury and allows you to catalog your aches and pains.
Oddly enough, I embrace those aches and pains on rainy mornings or the dull throb in an old broken bone that precedes a thunderstorm. The discomforts are reminders that I am alive, which in my mind is much better than the alternative. This is equally as true with the pain of grief, our capacity for love is equaled by our capacity to feel loss when those loved ones are taken from us.
When the COVID-19 emergency declarations were made, it felt like the darkness was winning. The future was far from certain and the question everyone wanted to know was how bad would it be.
As predicted at the beginning the social distancing restrictions largely worked, leading, as was warned, to the suggestion that it was much ado about nothing. Anyone who has followed previous pandemics, knows we are far from being out of the woods at this point. The difference being that with 10 weeks of hard traveling behind us, we know much more now than we did before. The woods along the trail are not as dark and foreboding as they once were and through the branches we see patches of blue sky and sunshine urging us forward.
Don’t fret Fred, I will still occasionally write you, and you are welcome to continue to read as long as you want, but for now it is time to explore the possibilities of today rather than in worrying about tomorrow.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.