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Hope after COVID-19

Hope after COVID-19

I received some criticism recently from a community member who told me I have not been giving the community a message of hope but rather one of fear. While none of us enjoys being criticized, I listened with an open mind, and I believe this person’s criticism was valid. I have tried with my internal and external messages to be truthful and accurate, but perhaps in that effort I have not provided the overarching theme that there is hope. Instead of providing more details of what our organization is doing to weather this current coronavirus storm, I want to focus this message on hope.

I have hope that baseball will return not just for major leaguers but for little leaguers and girls softball. I have hope that our kids will smell grass, field grounders, hit home runs, and hear their parents question the umpire’s heritage and eyesight. Soccer, too will return, and masses of kids and parents will see the huddles of children chasing a ball around vast fields toward distant goals. I have hope that football, basketball, and all the other sports we enjoy will return, and we will revel in the simple joy that a ball and bat can bring. Perhaps we will have learned to enjoy sports as play and the incredible human passion for competition, and not treat them as the most important activity on the planet. Miracles can happen!

I have hope that schools will open and bands, orchestras, and choirs will begin their activities. School plays will return and give parents the pride of their sons and daughters taking lead roles in familiar musicals. I have hope that kids will complain about homework, and parents will attend evening activities at the schools around Campbell County, Wyoming, watching their children with pride and joy.

I have hope that all of us will soon be chasing children and grandchildren around while sharing summer barbecues, camping trips, fishing in the Bighorns, and all manner of outdoor activities in the Wyoming summer. In September we will all complain that summer was too short, but fall hunting is now closer than ever. And maybe football too!

I have hope that our community’s economy will return to full productivity, and now more than ever we will all focus on shopping, eating, and supporting local businesses in Campbell County. As a nation we have seen the weakness of depending on China or other foreign countries for so many important products, especially medicine and PPE. I have hope that we will learn in the same way we don’t need to go to Rapid City or Billings to buy our cars, shoes, clothes, garden supplies and to eat out. We can do most of that right here in Gillette and help our local merchants that much more.

I have hope that our churches in Campbell County will again gather as a living body worshipping together in song, prayer, and homily, enjoying the Lord together. Our churches made the sacrifice of meeting virtually to protect their members, especially their most vulnerable members. This was never meant to be permanent, and it won’t be. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” This has been a minor sacrifice for a greater good, which is the protection of our friends and neighbors.

I have hope that we as a nation will learn some serious lessons about national, state, county, and individual emergency preparedness. I have hope that next time we will do better based on this experience. I have hope most of all that we have learned the value of each human life. After all, we did this to protect the elderly, the sick, and those who had the least chance to survive this virus. Let’s not waste the sacrifice that has been made by looking at life so cheaply from this day forward.

I have hope for Campbell County Health because I believe we did the right thing for the right reason for our community, and it helped save lives. I said from the beginning we will have scars and casualties. You cannot go through a disaster like this without some losses. With Campbell County Public Health by our side, we have taken the lead by letting our community know what to do to protect themselves, how they can access medical services, and most importantly by providing direct care throughout our organization, care that never lacked compassion or expertise. I have hope because of you as employees of CCH, each one of you who stood by your residents, patients, and coworkers providing healing and encouragement. I have hope because I saw our community come alongside CCH to make masks, offer gifts of food, and provide messages of thankfulness for what healthcare workers do.

I have hope that tomorrow will be better than today; not easier, just better. If you look for it, you will find hope, too. It’s there. Trees are budding, grass is starting to turn green, the warmth of summer is inexorably inching its way in our direction, and before we know it, kids will be playing baseball.

I have hope.

~ Andy Fitzgerald