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Small World Blessings in a Big City

Encountering healing and comfort while getting the Covid-19 vaccine

Vaccine blessings
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It seemed wholly accidental that I managed to get the vaccine. But it also felt like a Godsend. Everything about the experience seemed blessed.

Because I’m an old dude—having reached “full retirement age”—a friend sent a text as soon as “65 and up” became a qualification in our state for the vaccine. She also sent a link to a medical office that I’d never heard of. I logged on, registered and signed up for a slot.

I showed up at the center on 125th Street, not far from the Apollo Theater in the heart of Harlem. Book in hand, I wholly expected to be waiting outside for hours. No, not at all. I took the elevator up one floor, gave my name to the guy behind the desk. 

He went through my paperwork, then said, “The nurse will call your name.” 

The waiting room was a beautiful sunlit space with a high ceiling and skylight. Lots of places to sit—socially distanced—and with that wonderful multi-cultural, multi-ethnic mix of New Yorkers that I savor. Teachers, essential workers, old folk like me, all grateful for this chance to ward against the virus.

I started reading my book and heard my name. “Rick.” I looked up to see a friend from church with her 97-year-old mother.

Small world? In a city of eight million people, 60 blocks from where either of us lived. It also felt so right to have friends from my prayer community here, all of us celebrating this medical answer to prayer.

I waited over an hour, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Not at all. And the shot in the arm felt like a shot in the psyche too. No, it wasn’t a free pass by any means. I’d still need to wear my mask and observe all the protocols. I’d also need to come back in four weeks for the follow-up shot.

I was shown to a smaller waiting room where those of us who had gotten the shot would sit for 15 minutes, the staff making sure we were okay and didn’t suffer from any adverse effects.

I walked in and the nurse at the desk looked up and said, “Hi, Mister Hamlin.” She was the girlfriend of one of our son’s college roommates. More small world? No, just another reminder of how our city’s—and nation’s—health workers have doubled over backwards to bring healing and comfort to all.

I won’t even mention how on the subway ride home I ran into another friend, a teacher who’d just gotten his vaccine.

My arm was sore for a day and maybe I had a little bit of fatigue (didn’t stop me from doing my morning jog). My prayers extend to ALL those who are getting the vaccine or waiting for it. May you be safe and blessed. I felt like I was.

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