I had a dream last night in which I was visiting my old high school, chatting with people in the cafeteria and lobby.

After several minutes, I realized I wasn’t wearing a mask, and neither was anyone else.

I was immediately scared I might get COVID-19.

As dreams supposedly reflect what we are thinking of, consciously or subconsciously in our daily lives, I sought to interpret mine.

Am I afraid of getting sick?

Was my dream a wish that the pandemic would end and we could finally see each other’s faces again?


Am I fearful we will let our guards down as the omicron variant of the virus wanes — that we will shed our masks, become complacent and then be hit with another surge?

When I go to the grocery store, I’m concerned about all the people not wearing masks, particularly in light of the fact that the virus is still around, everywhere.

I wonder, do they believe the pandemic is over or that the virus doesn’t exist?

That they won’t contract it? That they don’t care if they do?

As I pass unmasked people in the aisles, I wonder which one will become sick tomorrow, next week or next month.

Have they already had COVID-19 and recovered?


With school vacations ending, some districts plan to drop mask mandates.

Is it too soon?

Will some students and staff continue to wear masks? Will they be bullied by those who don’t?

Yes, we’re all tired of pandemic restrictions, but they are in place to protect us. Those in the public health field understand this better than anyone.

We don’t like the virus, but we can’t wish it away.

I have great sympathy for school officials, health care workers, store clerks, flight attendants and people who work in restaurants and other such environments.


I feel sorry when they face harassment from those who lash out against them for enforcing the rules.

At board meetings I have attended of late — in-person — people look tired, under their masks. Their eyes tell the story. They are weary, heavy.

We are in our third year of the pandemic, longer than anyone of us imagined would be the case, when it began.

We have had ups and downs, periods when we were hopeful it was nearing an end, followed by the emergence of variants and rising numbers.

Now, with numbers decreasing, is the worst time to let down our defenses, at least from my perspective. It’s easy to think we are on the upswing, but we’ve been here before.

We’ve seen enough to know it ain’t over ’til it’s over.


Some say the virus will always be with us, though eventually in a less virulent form.

But now is not the time to eschew mask wearing. Not after all the hard work doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers have done, not after many of us have followed the rules, for so long.

An invisible, deadly virus is still upon us and we must continue to tread with caution.

I wish we could convince our naysayer friends to see the light, follow the science, be part of the effort to save lives.

I wish no one else would get sick, or die, or have long-term health problems from contracting COVID-19.

I wish, I wish, I wish.

But sadly, wishing just won’t make it so.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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