So, what was the biggest event this past week?
Dutch Liberation Day, also on cinco de mayo?
Your results may vary, but the biggest event in our household was none of these: It was testing positive for COVID-19.
And so we have passed the week: sleeping, head-aching, coughing, wince-swallowing, sneezing, lethargizing, turning up our noses at food, dragging ourselves out of bed and back into it, lying awake in a state of general crumminess and completely justified self-pity, collapsing into chairs after two full minutes of standing, whew, and enduring wakefulness in periods supposed to be for knitting up the ravelled sleeve of care. Not that COVID cares. Or has sleeves.
We are not yet firing on all cylinders but we are gradually recovering and I expect that progress to continue. And here’s the moderately interesting thing: While I know exactly when my symptoms started and when I tested positive, my return to health will not have a ta-da moment. It will come bit by bit until, sometime soon, I will realize that I am no longer coughing, that food is worth the bother, that I am interested in watching curling on TV, and that I can go up the stairs without counting the cost. Bit by bit I will have completely picked up my pre-Covid life.
In this way — and in this way only, I hasten to add — infection and wartime occupation by a hostile power can be similar. That is, the onset of trouble is often easier to date than the relief from those troubles.
Germany invaded the Netherlands on 1940 May 10 and within the week had occupied the whole country. The official German surrender came five years later on 1945 May 5, the day now celebrated as Liberation Day, or Bevrijdingsdag. But the liberation, while it absolutely deserves a day set aside for celebration, was not a one-day wonder. It was a bloody awful 8-month campaign from 1944 Sep to 1945 Apr in which more than 7,600 Canadian soldiers died. I have trouble grasping numbers like that, but it’s as if an all-boys school lost a whole classroom of graduates. Every day. For eight months.
Sometimes in life we slide insensibly into trouble but come out suddenly: surfacing, gasping, after snoozing off in the bathtub.
Sometimes trouble announces its arrival with a smack up the head and it’s the full-and-final end that slides quietly past instead. It can be worth the effort to mark that end anyway, to celebrate it somehow. The troubles keep on coming. When we can, let’s see them off in style.