Talking point: A cause for hope
The best updates I get from my family are the pictures or videos in the WhatsApp group.
Whether it’s the photo of my dad realising he’d accidentally worn odd shoes to the shop, the short clip of my three-year-old nephew saying a bad word or the picture of my nieces in matching rainbow jumpers, they always make me smile.
I’ve lived in Glasgow for three and a half years now. My family live in Falkirk. It’s not a long trip and in normal times I’d see them fairly regularly, either heading through for a catch-up or an occasion like someone’s birthday. But we’re not in normal times and I, like so many in Scotland, have relied on keeping up with them through messages and phone calls. It’s not quite the same as in-person interaction, but it’s something.
One of those texts from my dad in early February read: “COVID jag for me this morning.” It wasn’t a relief as such to read these words because I felt very aware that immunity would take a few weeks, and then there’s the anxiety caused by the uncertainty surrounding certain strains of the virus, as well as the fact my mum is still to have her first dose of the vaccine. But it was the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that I have allowed myself to be hopeful.
I’ve always been a bit of a realist. I’m not one to get carried away until I see there being good reason to, but in recent weeks I’ve tried to be more hopeful. Hopeful of genuine progress in this pandemic, hopeful of soon being able to meet up with friends for a cold pint in the pub, hopeful of being there when a golden family moment is captured on camera and hopeful of seeing my loved ones protected from a virus that has caused so much heartbreak for so many.
It’s helped that there now seems to be genuine cause for all of us to have hope. National Records of Scotland figures have shown there is evidence to suggest the vaccination programme is reducing the number of COVID deaths, particularly in care homes, a setting where the virus has caused utter devastation. Research then showed the Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca jags were significantly reducing the risk of hospitalisation from the virus.
My optimism is cautious, but it does feel like we might be starting to see a tide that is finally turning. With children returning to school on a phased basis, indoor care home visits resuming this month and another – hopefully our last – route map out of lockdown, we might just be taking small but notable steps out of this crisis.
And if we do that, I will strive not to take for granted any of the human interactions I share with my family, however small they are.
It could be my dad asking if I need my car’s oil checked, my mum asking if I’ve seen the state of my brother’s flat, my sisters laughing as I tell them about my awkward small talk at the barber’s, my niece ordering me to give her a piggyback or even our dog Alfie barking at anything that moves, I will just be glad it’s a picture I’m a part of.