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Don’t forget common humanity

What do we lose by staying masked and

6 feet apart?

In this age of COVID-19, I go for groceries, get my oil changed and do ordinary things to maintain normalcy.

I’ve also defied the guidelines. One day, searching for disinfectant in the soap aisle, I spotted a woman apparently searching too. When I asked what she was looking for, she named the same product. We laughed and lamented all our inconveniences.

Then the conversation changed. She told

me her husband had Alzheimer’s and she pays people to watch him while she goes for groceries. He’s combative and this is the only way she can get out of the house. We held each other’s bare hands. We cried into our masks and prayed together. Guidelines were defied. We hugged, then parted.

Another time, I joked with a mechanic tallying my bill for an oil change. He called me “Hun” and I retaliated with “Sweetheart.” We joked some more, then suddenly he told me he had Stage 4 cancer and was dying.

I grabbed his grease-covered hands. I gently asked for more information about his medical care, tried to give him hope. We cried together. I felt embarrassed because he appeared so grateful that I was there.

Can we still be human while masked, gloved and 6 feet apart? Can we extend God’s compassion while keeping our distance from people? Daily, we struggle avoiding COVID-19. But trying to share our humanity, in its midst, may be our greater challenge.

DOLORES

SOFRANKO

Champaign

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