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Written by MJ Reporter Willow LaMunyon

A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance, multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic.

It has been a little more than a year since we were hearing the word pandemic used as a modern event instead of something from history books. Nobody was prepared for the dramatic changes it would make in our lives. Public events were being canceled in the whirlwind of caution about the need to stay home. People started working at home. Children and parents were learning the ups and downs of homeschooling, stores were closed, and we felt as though we were suddenly living in an alien culture.

It is far from over, but we have become accustomed to seeing most people wearing masks and choosing mask styles for ourselves. We now attend zoom meetings, and life goes on even in this strange environment.

I have started to wonder what I would do differently if I could go back in time to make changes before the pandemic hit. There would indeed be the small things like haircuts and manicures that I would have scheduled ASAP to avoid finding my picture as one of the people on a Walmart website. There was the family cruise that we could have set at an earlier date, so now it would be a good memory instead of something we hope to do in the future. Most of all, I would have warned my friends to be more careful; maybe if I had been able to do that, a life would have been saved.

We can only go forward in time, so I am stepping away from the what-ifs. There is still much about life to enjoy even though we have a road ahead before this is over. A beautiful park is right behind my house, and I have learned to appreciate nature's starkness during these winter days while I walk my dog. Eating out has become a rare treat that makes it much more enjoyable than when it happened often. My cooking has improved, and I have some pretty masks to wear. One of these days' life will go back to normal, but we will all be changed. Crowds will stop being a threat, and events will happen in person instead of on zoom or being canceled. Maybe we will become more patient while waiting in line. No matter what the future brings, we will never forget the time when a mask was necessary, and a haircut wasn't.

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