Is it my imagination, or is everyone talking about silver linings these days? By now I’ve heard the phrase spoken so many times in so many different contexts that I’ve begun to expect it as an explanation whenever people mention a COVID-related restriction in their lives. In the midst of despair, misfortune, or even just plain frustration, they find something positive that offers them comfort. I truly admire such vision. Where they see soft, white clouds floating overhead, I see grey ones, spiked with danger—a herd of elephants stampeding across a leaden sky.
But now the vaccine has come along, and even I am beginning to feel optimistic. Reading the eligibility requirements in my state’s plan for phased distribution last month, I saw right away that I did not fall into Phase 1A. Next would be Phase 1B, including (among others) those at increased risk for serious illness. Fortunately, I thought, I suffer from none of the underlying health conditions described in that category.
Or at least I didn’t think I did.
But I do now. Shortly before we moved to Phase 1B, just two weeks ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. After getting over the initial shock, disbelief, and fear, it occurred to me that voila, here is my silver lining. With the dark kind of humor that is often used to lighten up the most serious of situations, I realized that now I may be able to jump to the head of the line and get the vaccine sooner rather than later.
A year ago, no one could have imagined this ugly, deadly virus running rampant all over the world, killing almost two million people and sickening millions more. But so it has. I’ve always trusted the science of medicine and never doubted that I would take the vaccine. And suddenly for me, it’s about a lot more than the promise of a return to the kind of prepandemic life we all remember. I don’t just want the protection offered in those little vials; I need it.
I’m not a true believer, but if I were, I’d pray that no one else ever has to find the kind of silver lining that I did. But if it does happen, I’d wish for them what I wish for myself: to stop looking at the clouds and start looking for rainbows instead.
Mount Kisco, New York