Do Something

Help your neighbors

Oh how we wish it was over—but it’s just not. As the virus continues to spread here in Philly, and case numbers rise yet again, remember to stay safe and keep looking out for fellow Philadelphians (many of whom will need support well after the pandemic is over). Here’s how you can help:


Get solutions in your in-box

Sign up for our newsletter

For a weekly dose of ideas, solutions and practical action steps, sign up for our newsletter:

* indicates required


( mm / dd )

(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]=’EMAIL’;ftypes[0]=’email’;fnames[1]=’FNAME’;ftypes[1]=’text’;fnames[2]=’LNAME’;ftypes[2]=’text’;fnames[3]=’ADDRESS’;ftypes[3]=’address’;fnames[4]=’PHONE’;ftypes[4]=’phone’;fnames[5]=’BIRTHDAY’;ftypes[5]=’birthday’;}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);

And follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

One Year of Covid: Fear Is Not Irrational

But, The Citizen’s executive editor notes, it is, also, not all there is.

One Year of Covid: Fear Is Not Irrational

But, The Citizen’s executive editor notes, it is, also, not all there is.

She meant to distract me, the young nurse, as she poked a needle into my hand, searching for an easy vein, while telling me excitedly about the weekend skydiving trip she took with her fiancé. They’d jumped out of a plane! It was thrilling! And then, her eyes intently on the needle she was jabbing into the next vein, she asked me: “What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?”

“Um,” I replied. “This.”

By this I meant brain surgery, which I had in October to remove a benign tumor from my hearing nerve (and which was the reason for the IV, in the ICU). It was, to say the least, terrifying for me, and everyone who loves me. But really, I could have been referring to all of the last 12 months, the year in which fear was the emotion I (and maybe you?) most often chased away.


It was fear of this weird ravaging virus, of course—fear that it would make my parents sick (or worse), that my children would come apart at the seams, that the vaccines would all fail, that all we lost would never come back. In the middle of that was fear, too, that my city would figuratively and literally burn to the ground, that we’d have a violent civil war, that America would be lost and never come back. That we’d never learn, never be better, never find a way to come together.

And none of those fears, even now, seem at all irrational. It’s hard sometimes even to breathe for the worry of what we’re experiencing, what we’ve become, what we’re doing to each other, not doing for each other. Are we on the other side of that? It’s hard to say so. And yet. Here we are; here I am.

Maybe—could it be?—what has won out is my natural inclination to tilt towards hope.

I’m a mother; fear is a little wrapped package that lives constantly just out of sight in the (large) part of my brain that is devoted to my children. Perhaps I’ve learned to adapt, to live with this new fear, as I live with that one. Or maybe—could it be?—what has won out is my natural inclination to tilt towards hope; maybe that is the lasting thing I’ll take away from these 12 months (and counting).

I didn’t come through this year with a profound life lesson. (Did you?) I can’t say that Covid and brain surgery and the shitshow that was 2020 have somehow left me appreciating the little things in life more than ever.

But those little things? They mattered.

There was the illuminated heart I saw every night from my bedroom during the lockdown, shining down on the city from the Comcast Tower. The story after story (after story) of people jumping in to help each other, in little and big ways. The socially distanced photos Andrea Cipriani Mecchi took to document Philly families (including mine) in this moment. The encouraging stickers that appeared every six feet on the sidewalk outside my house, where people lined up for food twice a week. The rainbows. The collective tears, the anger, the signs. The books I barreled through. The chips I ate with abandon (because if not now, then when?). The Zoom meetings that started to feel actually not weird. The Zoom happy hours with far-flung friends that meant sort of spending time with far-flung friends. The favorite restaurant down the street that actually made it through with staff intact. The sequined and message-emblazoned and silly face masks that started showing up a few months in. My Martha Rich vote mask.

I am incredibly fortunate. Most of my fears have not been realized. And I am incredibly grateful. For the brilliance of doctors (and surgeons), scientists, nurses, public health officials. For the kindness of neighbors. For the work of activists, artists, educators. For pivots, and compromises, and mail. For luck. For voters.

And, finally, for that little thing I never realized I could be so grateful for: hugging my vaccinated parents, for the first time in more than a year.

Header photo courtesy Roxanne Patel Shepelavy, from her first time out wearing a mask in March, 2020.

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil comments. If your post is offensive, not only will we not publish it, we'll laugh at you while hitting delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story

Advertising Terms

We do not accept political ads, issue advocacy ads, ads containing expletives, ads featuring photos of children without documented right of use, ads paid for by PACs, and other content deemed to be partisan or misaligned with our mission. The Philadelphia Citizen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and all affiliate content will be nonpartisan in nature. Advertisements are approved fully at The Citizen's discretion. Advertisements and sponsorships have different tax-deductible eligibility. For questions or clarification on these conditions, please contact Director of Sales & Philanthropy Kristin Long at [email protected] or call (609)-602-0145.