SLICE OF LIFE: Relating to others poses unique challenges – and opportunities – during ongoing pandemic

This past week, the high schoolers had their band and choir concerts. Two people from each household were allowed to attend. Spread out in the gym or on the stage of the auditorium, with masks on, the kids sang as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Perhaps even better considering the circumstances.

In the past, concerts were a big community event. But, like so many other things, this virus has affected every area of our lives. Going into the school 10 minutes before the concerts, masked parents and family members gathered in small, spread out groups to talk. Cloistering around people we have seen during the pandemic, we tried to make life seem as normal as possible. We also tried to recognize and wave at people we haven’t seen in what seems like, or could be, a year.

The holiday programs were all virtual—recorded and then shown on YouTube. So, it was nice to see parents of my daughter’s classmates. But for me, it was a bit awkward. My kids aren’t in winter sports, so we haven’t seen other people very much. I feel that I don’t know how to talk to acquaintances anymore and with the masks and the distancing, it’s just—weird! Maybe it’s just me, but I’m guessing that others feel or have felt that way?

Other relationships have been affected, too. Surround-ed by Amish neighbors, I miss visiting with them like we used to. Due to our different lifestyles, the pandemic has separated us. Although we “English” have the option of doing things virtually (however much we dislike it), they do not encourage the use of online platforms. Therefore, meeting in person is the option for them.

However, this column has allowed for some stimulating conversations with people. For instance, the STEM teacher at Dalton, Laura Grimm, emailed me to tell me about a huge picture sorting project she’d undertaken during 2020. Accidentally, she omitted the ‘L’ in my Gmail address and her message got sent to another woman who strangely, shares my name—unique spelling and all! The poor other Jacqui Hershberger was very confused, and understandably so, was wary of the email. After some messages back and forth, the confusion was solved and the email got to me.

I decided to email my twin to see who she was. I also wanted to know if she’d inadvertently received other emails intended for me. We were both surprised that we share names and I found out that she lives in Pennsylvania and has some connections to Mennonites and Amish, too. Maybe some day our paths will cross in person.

As we come up to the one-year anniversary of being in a pandemic, if we see each other in public, let’s smile, wave, and talk through our masks if we get the chance. And, if you send me an email, don’t forget the ‘L’!

Jacqui L. Hershberger resides in Sugar Creek Township. Email: [email protected]

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