Recently our family went to the ICE show and then walked over to Opryland mall to have dinner at The Aquarium. When the host there said it was a 45-minute wait, my hanger immediately took over. The young man clearly had no idea how a true hanger attack can affect a 6 foot 4 inches tall 60-year-old man; it can be ugly. Desperate even.
I left my name and cell with him and then my family and I dissolved into the festive sea of red and green holiday shoppers. I had no idea where they went; they all had a cellphone. And frankly, I didn’t care.
I was hungry.
My word, everyone picked today to shop. They had no idea, and I don’t think they even cared, that I was starving to death and they were all in my way.
I found a safe spot and settled for a nice bag of Bugles. The crunch was nice and the unhealthy food was satisfying to my famished frame. It’d been 2 hours since I’d eaten and, again, nobody in the whole mall was concerned about my state.
About 30 minutes after I’d raised my grease level with Bugles, my phone bopped with a message from my new host friend that our table was ready. I’m pretty sure the young man at the host desk had seen how longingly I was looking at his swimming fish taunting me in the aquarium and he couldn’t miss the saliva that was dripping from my mouth. I’m confident that he felt it safer for all those fish to get the big guy some food, quickly.
I assigned my son sitting with me (who magically appeared from the red and green sea) the task of rounding up the rest of the bunch and getting them to The Aquarium.
I set sail again into the ocean of Christmas people laughing and talking and walking.
After a delicious meal, we were about to head home and I wanted to go back and get some Starbucks for the drive/ride home. Here again, off I went on a quicker step this time, swimming upstream into the festive bowels of the Opryland Mall to the Starbucks that I’d seen earlier.
I found the home of the Americano pretty quickly. My mouth was already tasting the bitter concoction that I love so dearly as I approached the kiosk. But actually what I found was people cleaning. They closed early.
I couldn’t believe I was going to have to stop at a truck stop for coffee. How common. My coffee-snob palate was already embarrassed at the thought.
Doing a Uy, I sped back into people traffic. It was so crowded. I was hustling to get back with my tribe but the harder I tried, the more behind I got. There were people everywhere.
For a minute I got so frustrated. Just absolutely put out. All of these people. So annoying.
Then suddenly, a thought hit me and I stepped to the side by a store and stopped in my steps, turned, looked at all of these people and I smiled.
All of these beautiful and happy people. These wonderful people with bags of beautiful gifts for the people they love.
Children laughing. People passing. These shoppers rushing home with their treasures. Right in front of me. And I was irritated at them just 3 minutes ago.
Why was I suddenly humbled to even be in their presence?
Because all of these people and I had one thing in common: we survived Covid.
And I was one of those that ventured out and saw the empty buildings. The vacant malls were apocalyptic. One night in 2020, I left the hospital full of Covid patients and drove home where normally 100 cars around me, there were maybe only five cars passing around me.
Coupled with the news of more Covid deaths, the silent streets and closed-up shops of 2020 were one of the saddest things I’ve lived through. It seemed hopeless. I would look at stores and recall how they used to be filled with people; with life.
That was just 2 years ago.
Those of us that survived the global pandemic have now quickly forgotten the sadness and fear that we lived in during that time.
I smiled to myself and stepped back into the traffic but this time I looked at the people around me. Wasn’t this crowd of people an encouraging beam of light to see and be part of again after Covid’s devastation?
This epiphany was a reminder to me of just how quickly we can forget when things were sad and hopeless and how soon we get full of prideful selves.
Today I need to get some groceries (domestic manager duties) and I was going to call them in to avoid the crowd.
But instead, today I think I’ll brave the crowds again. Because now I know what it’s like if they’re not there; it’s sad.
Today I’ll go see all of the beautiful people that are outside and once again, enjoying life:
sweet and fleeting LIFE.
Merry Christmas 2022 to all of you other Covid survivors out there.
That’s the best that I can tell about it,
*This blog is dedicated to those that succumbed to Covid and their families that will miss them again this Christmas. And also to all of those healthcare workers that worked tireless and thankless hours to provide care for them.
Enjoyed the read Mark, we are truly blessed. Happy holidays!
Thank you, ole friend. Yes, we are…and dude we forget that all of the time. It was humbling to get that sudden reminder in the mall. Happy holidays to you and yours as well.