Mother, May I Take a Step?

May I step a little closer to hope, to openness? Hey, young security guard, is it my turn yet? Yes, I’ve sanitized my hands – three times since I got off the metro and followed a guy with a cane, a middle-aged son with his mother, two friends laughing and walking a couple of meters apart. My card is ready. My list of meds is in my hand, my sleeve is rolled up to my shoulder. Nobody can see my grin. Lucky they didn’t have canned music in the Palais de Congress last night or I might have grabbed that security guard and waltzed him, tangoed him, sashayed him right around the tables manned with all sorts of people ready to jab me. Yes, you may take a step. You may take a seat and get vaccinated against Covid 19. It is your turn.

Damned Covid. It looks like those spikey balls the knights used to swing around their heads on chains, hoping to bash the enemy’s brains out. We can’t see it, yet it held us hostage for so long.

Alright now, Isobel, you’re inclined to get fanciful, to let your imagination run away with you, to pick up on some sort of giddy vibe that is not often felt in the Palais de Congress. Everyone is smiling. Well, I assume so even though their mouths are still covered by masks. There’s something about their smiley eyes though that makes me look around and watch as people nod to each other, as the first contacts take their time explaining things and tutting about what we’ve all been through. Everyone is asking me what language I speak. We’re all so polite to each other we end up speaking Montreal French/English word salad and laughing.

It smells like Spring in here. It smells like Hope. Do I dare to say it smells like a little victory in a world too full of defeat.

Before I leave a young man with dark curly hair and an French from France accent gives me an appointment for the second shot. July 1st! I squawk and joke that maybe if I slip him an envelope he’ll give me an appointment closer to today’s date. He laughs when I tell him that’s Canada Day and ask if vaccinations will be done on our National Holiday.

“We will work every day, don’t worry.” Don’t worry – advice that has been hard to imagine let alone follow over the past year – yes, a whole year! As I walk through the dark park on my way home I’m singing a little song under my mask. The navy-blue sky is decorated with small while clouds and I think about all the people who are going to get their vaccinations in the coming days, all the people who are going to turn down the worry dial. Spring is a beginning but it’s an end this year too. It’s an end that was a long time coming and that is welcome.

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