Though Canada had recorded its first case of Covid-19 in January, it wasn’t until the beginning of March when the global pandemic claimed its first Canadian victim.
The North Shore felt a sudden disquieted unease as the once far-off crisis came to rest at our doors. With the deaths of care home residents such as Ming Ball Lee in North Vancouver, BC, our community was the first in Canada to experience what would become a series of tragic losses.
From panic buying to social isolation, the disease brought countless reasons to grieve, yet there were also profound moments of defiant joy.
Though we know hope amid grief is a necessary tool for our survival, as our neighbours suffered profound loss, optimism seemed almost profane. Commentator Katherine Thompson wrote, “We live in a world rocked by pain and injustice and also full of hope and a will to struggle to make it better.” Perhaps there is a place for gratitude among sorrow.
I have never seen this struggle play out more clearly than I have during this pandemic. Neighbours yelling at each other to stay home while others bought groceries for new friends.
A legion of volunteers grew overnight and made thousands of PPE’s for our local health care workers. Banging pots annoyed some and encouraged others. Sirens joined in, and painted rocks popped up all over our local trails.
Yes, the North Shore was home to Canada’s first deaths, and perhaps due to this stress, thousands of acts of generosity and kindness emerged. The pressure of the crisis forced us to rethink how we lived, and our suffering became visibly mixed with reasons for gratitude. This struggle was and is our world.
Three months into our journey with the first wave of the global crisis seemingly behind us, the North Shore is beginning to reopen, and this struggle has not changed. As we head into the next phase of the journey, and our children start to go back to school, many will continue to grapple with fear and anxiety.
Indeed, many obstacles face our return, and yet on June 1st, the schools will open. Reopening is an uncertain time, which for some may take their breath away, and for others, it is hopeful.
As we move forward, it may serve us well to remember that we will continue to face challenges because we live in a world where both pain and hope persist. And perhaps through our struggle, something new will emerge.
Paul T.P. Wong’s idea of “death as a master teacher” reminds us to engage with our suffering. When our hearts feel like they have stopped, we are provided an opportunity to acknowledge that this moment in life is more than death.
Heartache can be a powerful catalyst for change, should we choose to accept it. As we continue to move forward, may we be reminded that life isn’t always coming up roses, and sometimes that is okay.
DNV resident KellyAnne Little is a mother of four and a student at Trinity Western University.