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Free at Last

By David Haldane

March 18, 2021


I recently passed a milestone.

The strange thing, though, was that I didn’t even know it. I realized, of course, that the day would eventually come. And yet it whisked right by without my batting an eye.

I’m talking about something the entire world has coveted for more than a year: liberation from Covid-19. For me, that hallowed passage arrived on March 2, the day marking exactly two weeks since I’d received my second Moderna vaccination. The day on which, experts say, that much-ballyhooed injection attains its maximum effectiveness.

“It’s time to liberate vaccinated people,” Dr. Martin Makary, a surgeon, best-selling author and Johns Hopkins University health strategy expert, declared last week in a TV interview that sent me scurrying for my calendar. Specifically, he went on, vaccinated people should keep wearing masks in public but otherwise “go back to normal.”

Which reminded me of one of the most famous lines ever uttered by Martin Luther King: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last.”

Now, as then, however, precisely what that freedom looks like is a matter of some conjecture. While Makary believes the bottom line is that you can do more-or-less whatever you want, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is more circumspect. Once fully vaccinated, its website suggests, you can don your mask to “gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household” or, even better, party with fellow vaccinated Covid elites while leaving your mask at home.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s chief medical guru, adds that vaccinated people should still avoid travel, though he expects new CDC guidelines on the subject soon.

And painting the gloomiest picture of all, U.S. President Joe Biden, promising vaccines for all by May 1, assures Americans that if everyone behaves well and does what they’re told, heck, the government may even close its eyes to small backyard family cookouts—by the Fourth of July!

All of which, pretty much, leaves one free to make one’s own decisions.

Here’s mine: to lose as little sleep as possible over this conundrum. For starters, I expect to be back in the Philippines by May 1; a country where the vaccine rollout is just beginning, which, for me, will probably mean back to square one.

In the shorter term, though, we have an alternate plan. The newest member of our family, Adira—born in the early days of this godawful pandemic—will mark her first year of life on Easter Sunday. We have invited friends, family and neighbors to a backyard party on that day at which we intend to respect whatever measures people take to feel safe.

For Christians, the gathering will celebrate Jesus’ ancient resurrection from the dead. For me and my family, the resurrection of innocence in our hearts brought by our beloved baby girl. And for all of us, we hope, the imminent resurrection of normal life following a year of grievous lockdowns.

We ask only that there be lots of joy.


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David Haldane’s latest book, a short-story collection called “Jenny on the Street,” is available on Amazon. A former Los Angeles Times staff writer, he is an award-winning author, journalist and radio broadcaster currently dividing his time between homes in Joshua Tree, California and Northern Mindanao, Philippines.



Published Originally in Mindanao Gold Star Daily



1 Comment

  1. Mariquit P. Reventar says:

    Congratulations! You are now a member of the COVI Elite! Take care,. Ingat.

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