Each of us has faced enduring peril and uncertainty in our own way.
I’m lucky. My family and I were able to survive largely unscathed in the face of a capricious and deadly virus that hovers like a gray sheet, a constant reminder that our good fortune can end in an instant.
I know, of course, that many people, in many other places, have not been so lucky or privileged; that despite their care and attention, this mutant virus has infected too many lives with pain, loss and questions about what could have been.
To avoid disaster, my family and I crouched down, rarely leaving our home, which for over a year has been turned into a virtual office and boarding school.
Every now and then we take long trips or walks together to feel the soothing warmth of the spring sun and to remind ourselves that there is a world out there, filled with life and possibilities.
We have also been patient, waiting for the cavalry in white coats to arrive to offer us a way out of a pandemic that makes every day a surreal facsimile of yesterday.
We marveled and were grateful for the ingenuity of brilliant scientists who, in the months following the COVID-19 epidemic, succeeded in shaping several vaccines that mitigate the debilitating and deadly consequences of this rampant scourge.
The cynic in me doubted it could be done. Now I am starting to believe in man-made miracles.
Still, I thought that, given my age, I should wait a bit before getting the vaccine. Others, in more pressing need, were to be at the head of the queue.
I had a hard time knowing that when my turn came, I would be vaccinated before my children. The impulse to protect – to go last, rather than first – is embedded in a parent’s DNA. To think or act otherwise offends every measure of this constant instinct. So the prospect of going first rather than last is a hard pill.
But I thought I had time to prepare for the bitter sting of guilt as the vaccine rollout in Canada turned into a mishmash of broken promises made by bureaucrats and politicians trying to reassure me. and other Canadians that they are in the driver’s seat. when it is obvious to me and to other Canadians that no one is responsible.
Instead, prime ministers and a prime minister play the usual sport of the finger to avoid blame or responsibility for the debacle unfolding over the irregular supply of vaccines and the chaotic infrastructure put in place to stab needles. in arms.
Then another miracle happened: A large batch of the struggling AstraZeneca vaccine was unexpectedly shipped to Ontario in mid-March as part of a province-wide “pilot”. The catch: The first popular doses had to be given to people aged 60 to 64 before their activity expired on April 1.
My wife and I qualified. The trick was to get a coveted gold ticket / appointment that could only be taken by calling a participating pharmacy.
The predictable frenzy ensued. I dialed over and over again, only to be greeted by the thud like a heartbeat of a busy signal hour after hour. The resignation has taken hold.
Then another miracle happened: I succeeded. Surprised, I spoke to a kind and effervescent woman who told me that there were still a few spots available for the next day. My luck stood. She also told me about angry and impatient calls that, given the urgency of the moment, blamed her for the irritating inconvenience. It was Western privilege, defined.
With my golden tickets in hand, I shared the happy news with my equally excited family. A vaccine that once seemed so implausible, so far away, so out of range, was less than 24 hours away.
Soon our dizziness turned into relief. We were finally on the exit ramp with a hunch and in a strange place called the future.
The next day a disaster struck. Like dominoes, several European countries abruptly stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine after reporting that people who contracted it developed thrombosis a few days later. Several died.
Worried, I called my GP, who told me that every vaccine comes with risks. The question was: what risk was I willing to accept?
My simmering doubts were compounded by my old job as an investigative journalist which conditioned me to be wary of assurances made by people with impressive business cards in local offices and suits.
Worried, we debated the wait. We gave up until, after weighing the risks against the benefits, we agreed to go ahead.
A few hours later, I was standing in a long, silent queue that made its way through the top floor of my neighborhood pharmacy.
My mood was a mixture of anticipation, excitement and a rush of doubt. I knew I was one of the lucky ones. I knew the elderly and frontline workers – bus drivers, grocery store clerks, teachers, paramedics, nurses, and doctors – should have lined up in front of me.
And yet, I was there. For me, the guilt of being the first rather than the last has passed, replaced with a necessary selfishness and deep gratitude for the gift I was about to receive.
Finally, a young pharmacist signaled to me. I answered a few superficial questions, before rolling up my right sleeve.
Then I felt the pinch that so many other people, in so many other places, were waiting for.
As I walked home, it started to rain heavily. I wasn’t paying attention. I was a big step forward to be free from a disgusting virus that, until that moment, had imprisoned me.
My release from COVID-19 is near.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.