During the last month, I’ve made it a practice to sincerely look into the eyes of grocery store cashiers to ask them how they are holding up. Several times, they’ve smiled and mentioned their excitement about the vaccine (the liquor store owner smiled and said business is good)!

There’s a general feeling of hope in the air that 2021 will bring better times. That jobs will return, schools will reopen for good, and we’ll be able to visit again with family and friends. But we still have the winter to get through and all experts are pointing to continued death and suffering from this disease in the interim.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, and hospitals struggling to provide enough workforce and beds, we must be even more guarded than before. We know this ride is dangerous – it’s not time to suddenly grab a seat because we think they are installing the brakes next week.

Our healthcare workers who are waging this battle for us — every day they walk into a patient room, every time they put a sick person on a ventilator, or remove a tumor, or fix a broken bone. As we see the first vaccines go into their arms, we breathe a sigh of relief for them, while quietly wondering when we will have our own place in line.

The “cavalry,” as Joe Biden put it, can’t come too soon!.

It’s important that all of us hold the line as long as we can. We can help our healthcare providers by choosing to limit our physical contact with loved ones a few months longer.

Can you do this with me? Sacrifice a little more, even though it hurts? Help your community members a little more even though you’ve been helping for months? Give up one holiday so more people can celebrate with their families next year?

Keep in mind that victory within sight is not yet victory. But it will be if we hold steady just a little longer.

P.S. Here’s a three minute animated video (https://youtu.be/Ut_6GInouYg) that provides a powerful reflection on how our lives have been changed by the virus, and the transformation the vaccine will bring about. Every time I watch this I tear up just a bit, because the animation so captures the trauma of what we’ve all been through. As the hope offered by the vaccine rolls out slowly, begin to release pent up grief little by little.

Crocus photo: When I was a child, the crocuses in our front yard would begin to push up through the snow before it completely melted. Eventually, I learned this was a sign that spring would arrive soon. Like the crocuses, pictures of healthcare workers getting the first vaccines remind us that the end of the virus is on its way.