Last year at this time, during the days leading to July 4th, I was thinking of a much different freedom, or lack thereof, than I am today. Back then, it was all political — a set of circumstances and actions that felt like they were “over there” and out of my control, but nonetheless frustratingly bizarre.

These days my freedom is tied much closer to circumstances of a pandemic — an entity that has no image or personality for me to rant against. As of today, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 129,000 Americans and has become the single most devastatingly cruel event in our nation’s 243-year existence.

And the political events still exist, crazier than ever! It’s been widely claimed that it’s the politicians who have prolonged and allowed the pandemic to be as harsh as it has been. The politicians continue to insinuate themselves in the battle for safety and well-being as a way to advance their own agenda. Politicians also continue to be in the thick of discrimination and social injustice issues.

Talk about freedom and the lack thereof: the message of social differences that result in death and destruction again surfaced recently. It’s like gun control — proposals to improve things are brought up over and over without any lasting resolution. This holiday associated with freedom will again show the sharp contrasts between the white communities, law enforcement agencies, and people of color. How many more freedom events will be celebrated without our nation inching significantly closer to true equality for all? Recent events have shown just how much further we have to go to achieve that equality.

Limitations on our freedoms are much more personalized these days. As an aging group, we fear for the loss of programs such as Medicare and Society Security. As individuals, however, we can easily lose our lives if we erroneously expose ourselves to situations where the evil virus is lying in wait. Staying away from family members who don’t live with us and away from friends whose support and love we depend on is taking its toll every day!

I can easily skip dining with friends or going to classes and meetings. However, if my cat needs to be at the vet pronto or if I wake in the night with a throbbing toothache or blinding migraine, I’ll suit up and take my chances. These limitations and taking chances are projected to continue for some time, until a vaccine is developed, in my case because of being near the top of the high risk elders.

Talk about how our freedoms have been impacted! Returning to the place where most aren’t at risk from dying of COVID should be led by health care professionals, not politicians.

To me, it feels like freedom within our own country is very fragile, if it exists at all.

It’s going to be up to all citizens to right the ship this fall so that next 4th of July we can return to blog posts about the best potato salad recipes and activities for our grandkids. Don’t disappoint yourself or the rest of us who are depending on you.

And for the greater health of us all, wear your mask when needed and take care.