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By Helena Smrcek

How are you? Over the past few months, this question took on a more urgent meaning then the casual turn of phrase. The replies were often equally more weighted and honest. As our hurried, North American lifestyle suddenly came to a halt, we all were gifted with unprecedented time to reflect on our lives.

Photograph by Peter Turnley
I remember the shock that overwhelmed me as our household followed the daily developments. By week three, I realized I need to limit my exposure. The models and predictions were simply too horrific to comprehend. When the images from Italy, NYC, and Brazil made it to the screen, the reality sunk in, then a conscious fight against depression began.

There were days of extreme fatigue and dissolution, questions without answers. Every trip to the store was followed by a full day of tiredness and exhaustion. I mentioned this to a friend, and she explained that was my flight reaction. My system basically shut down, feeling overwhelmed.

I read an online article addressing this problem. The author discussed the possibility that a simple trip to a grocery store suddenly poses a deep moral dilemma, as our subconscious mind struggles to reconcile the perceived danger to ourselves, and the guilt and fear that we might be unknowingly endangering the lives of others.

As the saying goes, true character shows under pressure. The sadness imposed by isolation of the elderly was heartbreaking for thousands. The bravery of those who carried on in hospitals, residences, fire stations, grocery stores and other essential services was definitely inspiring. The ignorance of those who brushed all the precautions aside, citing the flu statistics was astonishing, but what jarred me the most was a TV interview with a twenty-something, explaining why personal protection wasn’t a concern, while participating in a protest. This disease, apparently, isn’t as severe among young people. Was this a blighted age discrimination? Sadly, he was not alone. I personally know of two people who tested positive for this horrid virus and broke the quarantine rules and joined the crowd.

I thought of others in close proximity to these young people and wondered how they would feel, if they knew. As the Costco staff chased down a customer who didn’t have his face mask on properly, I wondered again if protecting lives is arbitrary. Trying to wright a wrong by endangering hundreds of others, who are fighting for the same rights just boggles my mind.

I love the strength and enthusiasm of the millennial generation, they are calling for change, and the truth is, a change is long overdue. On the other hand, their sense of entitlement and disregard often shocks me.

I would hope that slowing down offered us an opportunity to address all that we love to procrastinate about. And that goes beyond decluttering closets, baking bread, and setting up Zoom calls. Perhaps this lock-down gave us a bit more time to think of the truly important things in life, like our neighbour, no matter what age, race, persuasion, or beliefs.

And I pray that as we return to our new normal we would take away from this experience a little bit more appreciation for those around us, the cash register staff, the cleaning person at our local hospital, the working parent, and the elderly. My heart breaks at the staggering numbers of those who left us, sick, isolated, and scared, unable to say their last goodbyes. Each one of them had a name. Lived a life filled with work. Build this great country of ours. Was a valuable member of a community. Sacrificed much. They deserve our respect and gratitude. May the Lord bring comfort to the families of these precious people and may we all do our part in keeping each other safe, for life is a truly precious gift.

About the author...
Helena Smrcek, a journalist, author, and screenplay writer, believes in the power of a well-told story. Her readers can expect a captivating page-turner, filled with thrilling suspense, and heartwarming romance.

She started in publishing as a high school student, freelancing for her local newspaper. Her journalism carrier took off in 1999. Within three years Helena accumulated over 100 by-lines and interviewed Ann Graham Lotz, Carol Lewis, Cec Murphey, Kelita and others. Her stories, many of them covers, have been published in Canada, USA, Bermuda, New Zealand, and Australia. In 2002 she accepted a position at Listen Up TV, a current affairs program.

Helena became a founding member of Write!Canada, and The Word Guild, a Canadian national association of writers and editors. She is a graduate of Jerry Jenkin’s Craftsman Class, Act One, Donald Maass’ Fire in Fiction, Writer’s Police Academy, and several mentoring programs.

She regularly attends writers’ conferences and is a past or current member of such organizations as Word Weavers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Toast Masters International, Boni, The Writer’s Guild, and others. Helena loves to participate in NaNoWriMo and hosts a writers’ group.

As an entrepreneur, she is familiar with marketing, branding, and social media. She has volunteered with YMCA, mentoring new Canadians pursuing their business dreams, and was an active member of her local Chamber of Commerce.

When not at her keyboard, Helena loves listening to audio books. Working on her hobby farm, and traveling. She lives in the Waterloo Region, Ontario, with her husband, two adult children, two dogs, several cats, and her favourite goat, Rosie.