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Finding the Antidote to Vaccine Frustration

After waiting in the bitter cold for a vaccine that didn’t arrive, this prayer proved the better option to blame and anger.

Edward and Gracie in the woods
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

Sunday morning and for once I was up before my dog Gracie and two hours before the sun. As soon as Gracie capaciously yawned and languorously stretched, as is her practice upon rising, she was gung-ho for breakfast, which I assembled quickly. Quickly, because I was in a hurry.

It started a week earlier with a strange email: I was confirmed for a Covid-19 vaccination at a clinic in the South Bronx at 8:45 am Sunday morning, January 24. I hadn’t asked for the appointment, at least not in the South Bronx. But somewhere along my frustrating online journey through the New York City Vaccine Finder site, looking for a facility in Manhattan closer to my apartment that I could drive down to from the Berkshires (where my wife Julee and I are sheltering), the algorithms decided to bestow upon me this appointment I hadn’t asked for many hours after I had abandoned my search. I asked a friend if I should trust it and she said, “Maybe it’s a God thing.”

“But why should I hit the Covid-19 lotto? Nobody can get an appointment and suddenly, I do. Doesn’t feel right.”

“Don’t question,” she said. “Just act.” 

So I did, having set my alarm for 4:31 a.m. (Don’t ask. I have an aversion to setting my alarm at a normal hourly or quarterly interval. I liked the way these numbers added up to 8, which is a lucky, mystical number.)

When I started the car for the two-and-half-hour drive into the city it was still dark, and the temperature was in the single digits. Julee was asleep, and I saw Gracie at the window with that Where-are-you-going? expression on her face. I’m sure she was dismayed that I hadn’t made myself breakfast and shared a little of it with her. I’d grab something on the road.

It took me 15 minutes to find a parking space in the Bronx. I joined a small line outside the clinic at 8:40. We all had appointments for a shot or a test and were bundled up against the bitter cold waiting and praying for the doors to open at 9. We waited until 10:15 when we were ushered inside and waited another half hour until a harried man came to see us. He said there was no vaccine. Their scheduled delivery hadn’t come and wasn’t coming.

It was hard to be angry with him. He looked so pained to be telling us this. He kept shaking his head and apologizing. But who could I get angry at? The city? The virus? God? Why was I sent on this mad quest? This had to be somebody’s fault.

It is natural to look for fault in an upsetting situation. Who did this to me? I was angry with no place for that anger to go. So I closed my eyes and said a prayer. Lord, this has been a tough year for the world, and a lot tougher for other people than for me. Please bless me with patience and trust rather than anger and resentment. Help me put my faith in You above all things, even in this terrible pandemic.

I pulled into our driveway a few hours later. Gracie popped up in the window, that Glad-you’re-finally-home expression on her face. I was too.

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