Mike Haynes

Don’t Let COVID Kill Friendships

When COVID first began I understood what was occurring, but never imagined it would do anything other than bring us together as friends, family, and a country. I imagined a community that would organize through faith-based and community groups to get food delivered to the sick. I imagined nurses coming out of retirement to help. I imagined schools of nursing graduating students more quickly and working side by side with them to be extra hands in clinical settings. I never imaged us turning on each other.

I have trusted science my entire life and am fortunate to understand health sciences. None of what was occurring seemed out of the norm to me with the expectation of the all-out effort to work fast. I know that as evidence becomes available recommendations are modified to match the new evidence. To those that think in terms of politics or religion, this can seem like a flip-flop.

I was caught off guard by the number of people that didn’t trust scientists including health science professionals but were willing to fully accepted conspiracy theories with no evidence. To me, this seemed foolish and on the verge of mental illness. It was as if a well-organized effort had been implemented to infect our country not with the virus but with verifiably false beliefs. Then they stepped back and watched the false beliefs lead to death and illness of men, women, and children.

A few weeks ago I lost a friend to COVID. I assumed he was not vaccinated though I never heard him express a political view or any view on the vaccine. Even though I didn’t share his faith beliefs he had been a friend I had loved since high school and I always considered him a good man. Over the last eight weeks, I have been following another friend as he struggles with COVID. He has now been in the hospital for seven weeks. I wanted to scream when he posted if anyone knew where he could get X drug which is unapproved and another that is proven not to be effective. Then his sister started posting updates and as the weeks go by my hope is fading and my prayers for him are unanswered.

All of this is probably familiar to all of us. What is new to me is people openly asking if a person who is sick and possibly dying was vaccinated. I wish everyone was vaccinated, but asking the family member if their brother was vaccinated is representative of the lack of charity we have shown for each other throughout this pandemic.

My friends are my friends and I love them even when we disagree. I don’t love everyone’s politics. I worry about the mental stability of some as they slip into conspiracy theory beliefs. I worry about their health when they are unvaccinated. I even go through periods of avoiding posts and contacts because I know they will upset me. Friendship, family, and neighbors are more important than a vaccine and they are more important than death. When this is over I hope we haven’t lost much more than 700,000 beautiful lives. I hope we haven’t lost the ability to love with open hearts.

Life may end - COVID
Loving with an open heart
Keeps kindness alive

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