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A Desperate Prayer for Trust and Patience Is Answered

After a frustrating effort to get the vaccine, some real hope emerges.

Gracie and Edward in the woods
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

The adage that kept looping through my head was, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I was back in my Jeep early in the morning, my dog Gracie looking quizzically at me from the window again (Where are you going now without me?).

The temperature was even colder than a few days ago when I had driven three hours before dawn into the Bronx for my first Covid-19 vaccination appointment—only to be informed there were no shots available that day. And that was after standing, shivering, in line for 90 minutes with a dozen other forsaken souls. They’d reschedule us ASAP.

Yeah, sure, right.

Vaccinated EdwardI tried to channel my anger and frustration that day into a desperate prayer for patience and trust rather than blame and resentment. Many people were far worse off than I was, for sure. I should have been grateful that I even got an appointment. A glimmer of hope. Everyone was doing their best. Just hang on. I wrote a blog about it. Folks were sympathetic and encouraging.

Yet when the promised call came that my vaccination had been rescheduled for the next day, and “Yes, Mr. Grinnan, we absolutely promise there will be vaccine,” I still didn’t quite trust it, even though my prayer for trust appeared to be paying off. Was that any way to thank God? With squinty-eyed skepticism?

On the drive back down to the Bronx, I thought about where we were a year ago. A global wave of a deadly virus was rolling toward our shores, but few of us had any idea what was to come. I’ve mentioned that I am a bit of a disease geek. I had Google alerts on my phone about SARS, the more deadly but less contagious precursor coronavirus to Covid-19 that emerged in 2003.

Those alerts had started blowing up in December 2019. Wuhan, China, was locked down due to a severe, highly transmissible viral respiratory illness, every epidemiologist’s nightmare. Still, I couldn’t have seen how life was going to change in ways most of us had never experienced or even imagined.

Now here we are a tragic year later with nearly half a million dead from the virus and more deaths certain to come before it gets better. But it will get better. There is real hope. Vaccines, therapeutics, reliable home testing. All of it will help restore us.

We have made remarkable progress, though it might not seem that way in this dark winter. Could I have imagined a year ago that I would be driving into the city that I had largely abandoned in March to receive an effective vaccine against a virus that was just then being identified and understood? Could I have foreseen that my hair would grow this long?

I miss talking to my late Uncle Eddie, who worked with Jonas Salk in the ‘50s on scaling up the polio vaccine for mass distribution. He was a man of both faith and science. And it is faith and science that will see us through this pandemic hand in hand with patience and trust.

I returned home later that day with a sore arm, feeling blessed and protected and still wary. We’ve got a long way to go. There was a message on my machine from Gracie’s vet reminding me that she was due for several vaccinations. I wasn’t the only one the Lord was looking out for.

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