Disappointment & Fear

I am not a public health expert. I’ve never taken a single post-high school biology course. I know nothing about the spread of infectious diseases. So therefore I believe the experts, the Dr. Anthony Faucis of the world. I am lucky enough to have multiple doctor friends. I ask them questions. I trust their decades of learning. 

That being said, COVID-19 hysteria has really got me down. 

I don’t use hysteria in a critical way, just in the literal sense. As in, an “exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, especially among a group of people.” I suppose some would quibble that this collective shit-losing isn’t exaggerated, it’s appropriate. But I’ve been in the middle of window-smashing, car-burning riots where people were calmer than they’ve been today. This is hysteria. 

Unlike riots, this situation has neither a precipitating “wrong” nor a collective “right” to look to. The hysteria isn’t in reaction to police brutality or an egregious bad act. It isn’t a collective frenzy focused on stopping gun violence or supporting women or keeping a Confederate Flag atop a building. This frenzy has no enemy and no goal. 

It’s just mass disappointment and worry. 

Combined, it’s a wicked, wicked situation. People are disappointed because sports are canceled. Seniors missed playing their last college games. Freshmen who made varsity have been told they won’t get to play this year. Prom dresses are getting returned. Opening Days at brand new ballparks are postponed. Teams that have been working towards one deadline for over a year all of a sudden have a different deadline or no clear deadline and the ambiguity is almost as crushing as the disappointment that they won’t get that feeling of, “Yes! We did it. We killed it.” 

Experts were saying Thursday morning that this crisis could use a “Rock Hudson moment.” That people would pay attention when someone they knew got sick. I think people are paying attention now. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have something they were looking forward to that’s been canceled. And for a believer in this theory, anticipation is pretty important. 

Layered on top for some folks, somewhere on the bottom for many others — the younger ones, the healthier ones — is the worry. Will someone I love get sick? Is the nursing home’s visitor ban effective enough? Is my wife, the ER Director who’s bunking at the hospital so she stays healthy enough to work, actually able to stay healthy there? Is my pregnant sister-in-law going to have a hospital bed when her time comes in early April? Am I the jerk traveling when everyone should be on lock-down? Am I being selfish? 

The disappointment-anger combination is brutal. Today it’s made me angry. It’s made me sad. It’s made me feel resigned. It’s made me wish I was at home with my husband and my dog and Disney Prime. 

Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and feel thankful though. Thankful that I have things I care about enough to be disappointed to lose. People I love enough to worry about. Thankful that nothing I’m missing can never be replaced. Events won’t be replaced, always, with like. But they will be replaced. Perhaps even replaced with something better than expected.


Alicia Amling View All →

Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.

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