As we navigate the uncharted and terrifying territory of the coronavirus, the signs of our times stand out as a stark reminder of our responsibility toward one another. Messages ring out with warnings from the first shrill cell phone “Emergency Alert” that heralded the “Stay at Home” order on March 26 to signs everywhere. Shops, restaurants and stores heed social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting, and staying at home. Some, like the Oriental Theatre have thrown in tongue-in cheek messages, “Closed due to toilet paper shortage.” Sadly, we can all relate to that when standing gobsmacked in front of an empty Charmin (who cares about the brands?…we’ll settle for anything, right now) aisle. Face masks are the new fashion accessory to go shopping in.
The sign of our community’s generosity of spirit underscores Governor Polis’ plea that we all do our part, even creating #DoingMyPartCO. Northside pride shows that in droves. Kids have put up hearts on homes and shuttered businesses throughout North Denver. The community is helping to feed the homeless, school families in need, and thousands who are suddenly out-of-work. The Family Jones House of Spirits is making hand sanitizer and donating it to rescue missions, using alcohol from their distillery. Neighbors are helping elderly neighbors to shop or just checking in on them. Some are providing comfort to those who have lost a loved one, whether to COVID-19 or something else. The void left when we can’t enter a hospital or an old age home to hold a hand and say goodbye, nor gather for a funeral, is a particularly cruel part of this deadly virus. Our hospital and emergency service teams are revered for the work that they are doing. We can never repay them with enough gratitude for their bravery and service.
Sloan’s Lake has offered respite to weary souls. Unfortunately, some paths are packed too close for comfort. Tennis nets and basketball hoops are gone. Barricades block traffic from going around the lake or into parking lots. Playgrounds are cordoned off with caution tape. Even the geese seem to be practicing social distancing, swimming 6’ apart. But, our beloved park holds hope, too. Messages of love and encouragement pave the path in chalk art. Silent reflection on the shore embraces the beauty in our own backyard, and brilliant sunsets remind us that the sun will rise and set and this will end.
Our brave new world inside is another sign of the times. Zoom conference calls, endless hours of devastating COVID-19 and unemployment news, TV binge watching, graduations via Skype, virtual parties from shared movie watching to happy hours, and kids entertainment offered by local musicians like Jimmy Hank Williams and the Rocky Mountain Aardvarks are creating a sort of Zombie Apocalypse meets a new normal. A true social media sign of the time includes Facebook’s public group, “Go Outside and Howl at 8pm.” With close to 250,000 members howling at the moon each night, it is bringing people from cities across the nation together during the pandemic. Northwest Denver Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval said, “It was totally fun and an unexpected release that brought our community together! It brings on all kinds of waves of emotion through these incredibly scary times. We need to stand by one another and together we will get through this.”
This flood of indoor technology will be the student’s new normal, as well; virtual learning begins for DPS after an extended spring break, and will continue throughout the remainder of the school year. All of the “normal” is gone for kids, families and teachers…cancelled performances, trips, graduations and just old fashioned “hanging out.”
For that, and for so many reasons, we all have heavy hearts and will look back one day and say, “Where were you when the coronavirus hit?” I’m proud to say I was amongst caring people in North Denver.
Stay safe. Be Smart. Stay Healthy.