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The date that this pandemic began for people varies depending upon their location and level of awareness at the time.

Many Americans point to March 11, the day the NBA shut down after league officials learned that forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

My school district shut down two days later, as did many school districts throughout the country.

But if you were living in Seattle, your pandemic start date is probably much earlier. Seattle courthouses, for example, shut down on March 2, followed soon after by many other governmental institutions.

My pandemic anniversary is February 17, 2020,  two days after my birthday, when I received an email from a client who works in the biotech industry warning me that the pandemic was coming. ”

No one is taking this thing seriously now,” he warned. “But they will.” He went onto say that the government was ignoring all the warning signs, “but this virus is very real and very bad.”

The email included a list of things to purchase immediately, including toilet paper, hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, Advil and Tylenol, and a month’s worth of shelf-stable food. He also advised me to stock up on any prescription medications that my family might need.

I went into action, and by the end of the week, I had purchased everything as instructed.

Then I began charting the course of the pandemic via news outlets. I also received periodic updates from my client and later another client who works for a large hospital. It didn’t take long to see that they were right.

It was going to be bad.

I was also astounded that no one in the government was warning Americans about the pending crisis. For those who were paying attention, it was clear that we were on the precipice of something terrible, but Americans continued to live as if nothing was happening.

I told a handful of colleagues on February 26 that school would likely be shut down by April vacation, and I advised them to stock up on supplies, too. Though I was initially met with incredulity by most, a couple of them soon began popping into my classroom daily, saying things like, “Oh my God. I think you can see the future!” and “I thought you were crazy when you first told me, but I think you might be right.”

On March 2, I exchanged text messages with a friend who works in the medical field about the pending pandemic. She opened our exchange with:

“Wondering if your school district is preparing for home-schooling?”

She advised me to also stock my freezer, as well and take actions to boost my immune system, including sleeping a little more.

“Disruption is coming,” I wrote. “Bigger than most people expect. At least I think so.”

Her reply:

“You’re right. I don’t want to panic Elysha, but you are right.”

I stocked up our freezer two days later.

The remaining days before the NBA shutdown, the closing of our schools, and nationwide shutdown felt like a series of dominoes falling.

Inevitable, utterly foreseeable, and unstoppable.

As I passed my pandemic anniversary, and as you perhaps approach your own, I know that many, many people have reached a breaking point. Job loss, remote schooling, the sickness and death of loved ones, and the loss of things we once took for granted are taking an enormous toll on all of us. Living for a year or more in constant fear and relentless vigilance can be taxing for even the strongest of people.

Add to this the selfish, stupid fools around us who ignore the warnings, forgo the precautions, and continue to live their lives as if the virus is irrelevant, thus aiding and abetting in its deadly spread, and the days can start to feel overwhelming.

This virus has now killed more Americans than World War 1, World War 2, and the Vietnam War combined, yet some Americans continue to dismiss it because of their fundamental inability to delay gratification, sacrifice for others, and behave like decent human beings.

But I’ll remind you that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and frankly, it’s miraculous. Vaccines that once took years or even decades to develop are now being put into the arms of millions of Americans every day. Infection rates are dropping precipitously, and though the variants may cause infection rates to spike in the coming weeks, things are getting better.

Predictions that we will reach herd immunity thanks to a combination of vaccines and previous infections range from April to September, but either way, the end is coming.

The light gets brighter every day.

Life will admittedly never be the same, particularly in the United States. Our country has managed this crisis worse than just about any other nation on the planet, mostly due to an idiotic man-child of a President who was unwilling and incapable of handling this crisis.

Americans represent 4% of the world’s population but 25% of all COVID-19 deaths. That is a horrific statistic.

You can’t lose half a million lives and expect the country to simply return to the way it once was so quickly.

But a semblance of normalcy will also return. We will soon gather in theaters to watch movies and musicals once again. We will eat in restaurants. Hug our loved ones. Visit grandparents.

School will return to normal. Masks will eventually disappear. Americans will stop dying by the thousands every day.

All of this is on the horizon.

I know the days are hard. I know the losses are many. I know the heartache will take a long, long time to heal.

But the end is coming. Hold on for a little while longer. Stay safe. Take care of yourself, and if you can, take care of someone else, too.

The light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter every day.