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Our Pandemic Year: Above all else, we must look out for each other

  • Deb Beaupre walks her two dogs Charlie and Lucy near her home in Meriden, N.H., on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Beaupre reflects on life during the COVID-19 pandemic, including enjoying the outdoors more. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Deb Beaupre, of Meriden, N.H., at her home on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Reflecting on how life has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, "Now everyone is talking about politics and issues and thinking of ways to fix, revise or change the systems for a better world," she writes. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

For the Valley News
Published: 3/2/2021 11:00:03 PM
Modified: 3/2/2021 11:00:19 PM

Editor’s note: In anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic's arrival in the Upper Valley, we asked Valley News readers to reflect on the last 12 months.

I know something about a community looking out for its own. When I had cancer, there was a time when I was double-dosing with chemo and radiation. That’s like having a hangover, a stomach bug, mono and the flu — plus your skin is literally the texture of bacon.

I was too tired to do anything. Had to rest to and from the bathroom. We already had an amazing meal train, but then my girlfriends rallied and took over my life. This was December and I wanted the kids to have a semi-normal Christmas. Women came to my house one week and cleaned, washed and organized everything in sight. Another time, my former bosses wrapped all the kids’ presents. Colleagues and church family members came to sit with me until I fell asleep. Another couple brought us a tree and set it up.

Last March, when the pandemic hit, I was the principal of a great little school in Cavendish, Vt., where they’d had far too much experience with tragic disasters, having been cut off from the world in 2011 by Tropical Storm Irene. The town was ready, and past the “omg” stage pretty fast. Folks had designated food stations, organized ride-shares and a communication system, and planned meal delivery and alternative housing in case of emergency. They had all the logistics down. But they also had the most important piece, something we all have realized is necessary in order to make it through this thing: They knew that what we needed to do, above all else, was to look out for each other.

When I think about what I am taking away from the pandemic, most of it centers around that notion.

Connecting

If I never join another Zoom call for the rest of my life, I will be happy, but it does have its uses.

Planning work meetings is so much easier. We used it to schedule family happy hours every Friday night with relatives all over the country. It was great. I drank more than was good for me but did not care. We laughed so much it was like Thanksgiving every week.

Now my book group meets this way and we relish our time together. Some of us even read the book as well, which is a bonus.

Church

My church has gone virtual, and then some. First there was outdoor seating, but it got too cold so we are on Zoom and YouTube and Facebook. My pastor does a weekly devotion. He creates fun take-home projects for kids, makes it easy for us to participate, and it is my lifeline.

I can tune in during the week to hear sermons and the beautiful organ music, and I need that. Having the service recorded means I can take part if I am out of town. As we move forward, it would be great to use technology to help us stay connected wherever we are.

Embracing my inner hermit

I like being at home. I like puttering, cleaning, reading and just sitting in a quiet house. This pandemic meant that everyone else was doing that, as well, and so I didn’t have to feel guilty about not going to a party or declining invites for dinner or drinks.

I grew up in Massachusetts and I remember Sunday “blue laws.” Nothing was open and you could not buy booze, so people stayed at home and did things with their family. I drove through West Lebanon during the lockdown and it looked just like every Sunday of my childhood. No major holiday dictates when stores are closed anymore. I have missed that ever since I moved here, and with the pandemic, I got it back.

Appreciating the outside more

I used to take public transportation everywhere. I have become soft in my time living here; I do not have anyplace close enough to walk to. I am one of those people who like New Hampshire without being outdoorsy. But now I walk no matter the temperature. I cross country ski. On rare occasions, I hike.

My husband and I are trying our hand at target practice with BB guns. Don’t judge — after 30 years, Scrabble loses some appeal.

I’d be open to ice fishing, mainly for the fire and the booze, but hey.

Watching the sun rise and set from a room with no lights has become a ritual I love. There is something about starting and ending the day along with the sun that feels fulfilling and right.

Looking ahead

I am thrilled to see the level of engagement on the part of students and young people regarding the news of the world, and this country in particular.

I am a news junkie, and for years I listened only to NPR. When I got an iPhone and learned I could have music on it, I started sending my kids recordings of my new favorite songs. I was so out of date, they finally just had to say, “Mom, those songs came out when Obama was a senator.”

Now everyone is talking about politics and issues and thinking of ways to fix, revise or change the systems for a better world. The only thing that keeps me from running down the street screaming at the state of the world right now is the idea that I am about to have my mind blown by what they create.

Deb Beaupre lives in Meriden.




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