I would like to start this post by saying that I didn’t want to travel. Traveling right now is not fun. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. It’s annoying.
If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll know that I lost my uncle earlier this year. We actually learned of his death just three days before the province virtually shut down in precautionary COVID measures. Planning a funeral was seemingly impossible. Not only were there legal limits on how many people could be in one place at one time, but we also needed to think about the fact that my father, his siblings and most of their relatives (with exceptions of kids and grandkids) are 60 are older. Gathering in a large group seemed… not just stupid, but dangerous too.
COVID cases in Western Canada were trending downward for a while. Businesses started reopening and we reached a point that people were told groups of 50 or more could meet outside. Given the news warning we could be headed for a second lockdown, my aunt came up with a plan to host a funeral for my uncle now, before it got too late and we hit a second wave.
The plan was to meet at the beach. My aunt has a cabin at the lake and they have a pretty spacious beach. The rule was that only my uncle’s siblings, their spouses and their children were allowed to come. No grandkids, no cousins or other extended family, no former coworkers… no one was allowed to come who wasn’t immediately, and closely tied to my uncle. The details were strict and needed to be adhered to at all costs. Everyone had to wear masks. Everyone was provided pocket sized hand-sanitizer. Everyone had to stand/sit six feet or more apart.
I went and got an asymptomatic COVID test on Thursday, received my results on Friday morning and left. The only stop made along the way was to get gas and brownies in Lake Louise. (IYKYK) There were a lot of people in Lake Louise blatantly ignoring bylaws mandating that people wear masks. There were also A LOT of crowds. People didn’t seem to care about COVID.
When I got to the town the funeral was being held in, I immediately went to the hotel. Driving through the parking lot I saw a lot of American license plates, which was curious to me as the Canada/USA border is still closed to non-essential travel and this town is not even remotely close to any route to Alaska. When I got to the hotel lobby, I was met with a lot of people hanging out, laughing in the lobby without masks. Again, people didn’t seem to care about COVID. I’m not sure why as the particular area I was in was/has been averaging 100 cases per week. (100 cases might not seem like a lot compared to news we’re hearing about Brazil and the USA, but 100 for this little town and their small population is a very large number)
I nearly lost my cool at the elevator when a man with a southern accent pushed his way onto my elevator without a mask and then tried to intimidate me when I got out of the elevator. I wanted so badly to argue with him, but his lack of mask reminded me it might smarter for me to step out of the elevator and let an asshole be an asshole. The southern accent made me also think that he might be from one of the cars with American plates that I saw in the parking lot, and if he was traveling, I didn’t want to be near him.
For the most part, I stayed in my hotel room.
When I left the room I had a mask on. I had hand sanitizer with me and I have a little gadget on my keychain that makes it so I don’t have to push buttons or open doors with my fingers.
The next day I got up, got dressed and went to the funeral.
I was nice.
It was sad. But it was the farewell that my uncle deserved.
I’m certain that we looked entirely weird to anyone who saw us… all spaced out on a beach yelling at one another.
We laughed about my uncle’s dry sense of humour. We smiled and celebrated when we learned stories from his life of the goodness he spread. We cried when we talked about how tragic his passing was. We never got near one another. Though I’m sure everyone wanted to hug one another, everyone acted with precaution. I was proud of them all for that because, while the other people might not care what’s happening in this world, my family was able to successfully have a funeral for my uncle without anyone getting sick.
The funeral ended, I got in the car and I left. I stopped only to get gas, and I was home that night, shortly after midnight.
There were no hugs. There were no handshakes. There was no stopping to see sights. There was no going without a mask. Precautions were taken at every step of the way.
I was anxious for weeks about this funeral. I didn’t want to travel, but I wanted to be there for my uncle. I didn’t want to be around people, but I wanted to be there for my family.
My recommendation to anyone who has to travel, or is considering travel is to be careful. Don’t be stupid. Take precautions. You may be perfectly healthy, but all it takes is for you to cross paths with one sick person and everyone you cross paths with for the rest of that day and likely for weeks after, you could be spreading germs too. That’s how COVID spread around the world (literally) in a matter of three short months. If you don’t have to go somewhere, consider staying home. If you have to go somewhere, be very careful. Precautions help. Don’t hang out in crowds. Wear your mask. Bring sanitizer. Don’t give out hugs. Don’t attend a car show in Hamilton! Keep to yourself. Pretend you’re an introver!
The news is saying that it’s going to be a long, hard winter that’ll be made a lot worse if we don’t take precautionary measures to slow the spread of COVID. So please, please, please be careful.