On January 20, at the end of a long, emotional (Inauguration!) day, I got a text from a friend, that he had heard there were leftover and expiring COVID-19 vaccine shots being administered on a first-come, first-served basis to those who made it to the stadium’s parking lot in time. My husband and I pulled on shoes under our pajamas, jumped in the car, and got in a snaking line of vehicles under the glare of flood lights against the night sky. After communicating our identification and contact information to one harried and heroic healthcare worker after another at a series of stops—each of them handwriting on clipboarded sheaths of papers flapping in the wind—we received our first Moderna dose in our left arms at about 10:00 p.m. With every vaccine I’ve received in my life, I’m conscious of the blessing of protection it offers from the fear (and actuality) of disease that stalked my ancestors—ancestors as near as my parents and grandparents, for measles and polio—but this shot in the arm was especially poignant. I cried, in gratitude and relief, even not knowing how or if we might be able to secure a second dose on schedule.
Last Wednesday, February 17, marked the optimal day for our second dose. Before that, we had not received any response from the clinic to our emails or phone calls about making an appointment or getting in an end-of-day, try-our-luck line again for our next shot. On last Wednesday itself, we here in Austin were in the middle of ice storming and power outages and water shutdowns, and both shipments and dispensing of any doses were indefinitely delayed. But today, just an hour or so ago, we received emails inviting us back to the stadium at 4:00 (timed according to the letters of our last name) to complete the vaccination; two weeks from today, we’ll be as immunized as possible against this viral challenge.
I love convergences. I love to watch for them, celebrate them, wonder at them. For me—someone who concentrated on literature in college—our life’s narrative is full of literary devices, some of them in real life too obvious or wild to ever be written into believable fiction, and convergences can yield rich examples of these. A few: We received our first shot on Inauguration Day, both events marking a new season and a fresh start, a hopefulness against the darkness. We were supposed to have received our second shot on the day when instead it turned out that much of Texas was falling apart (the same week of Presidents’ Day, a Presidents’ Day on a Monday following the Saturday that our state senators acquitted our former president for his insurrection incitement); instead, we’re going to receive it today. And two weeks from today, the day that our bodies will have generated their full immune response to this coronavirus, is our youngest son’s birthday. On his birthday one year ago, his university shut down and sent all its students home because of the virus, which is when we began a serious quarantine with him and his next older brother—exactly one year from the start of the intensity of all this for our family to the beginning of its lightening for us.
For all the hours the people in our family have spent in labs, hammering on the science and the math to solve the problems at hand, there have been hundreds of thousands of more hours of others devoted to developing and offering these particular vaccine solutions to this particular pandemic, and I am grateful for the expertise, grateful for the efforts, grateful for the expansion of all of our lives as a result of the intense work of theirs.