The light at the end of the tunnel.

Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is the magical ingredient in life that helps us feel confident, stand taller, stride fearlessly, smile more often and believe in possibility. Hope is…

“the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,”*

If hope is the light at the end of the tunnel, what happens when it flickers and dies?  You either curl up or you cope.  I curled up.

The Boston Marathon spans a distance of a few hundred yards longer than twenty-six miles beginning in Hopkinton and ending in Boston.  About twenty miles into the race, the runners pass through the Newton Hills, the last of which is famously known as Heartbreak Hill – a half-mile tough incline.  It is here that the race is typically won.  Or lost. It is here where the runners define “endurance”.  This is where fatigue robs the runners’ legs of strength and power where the lungs are labouring intensively to suck in enough air to stave off collapse.  This is where quitting becomes a very real possibility — universally known as hitting the wall. That’s how, on top of everything happening in my life and after being isolated in our bubble of two for a full year, I was feeling. As if my endurance had been sapped.  As if I had hit that wall.

A year without visits with and from family and friends (barring a handful of driveway drop-bys). A year since we’ve been in any shops (even for groceries) or any other businesses (think banks, post offices, hair salons). All made bearable with time on the Northumberland Forest trails, in the parks and conservation areas.  But then came the stay-at-home orders. 

Even then, the promise of vaccination flickered at the end of this tedious and claustrophobic tunnel. With inoculation came the dream of invitations issued and accepted, the hope of gathering intimately indoors, of welcoming guests with hugs and kisses.  Of sharing our pandemic experiences and helping each other make peace with it all. 

But then came the announcement that anyone with compromised immune systems (me) would not be given the injection because none of the four serums had been tested on our demographic and thus were considered unsafe.   Instantly that flickering light was extinguished.  It was then that I knew Ms. Dickinson had it all wrong, that it does stop, that the thing with feathers only perches temporarily and eventually flies away.

I shared my despair with a small handful of friends who reacted variously with indifference, concern, support, love and irritation, my sense of hopelessness viewed through the lenses of their lives and experiences which, of course, were all very different from my own.  

I curled up, figuratively, and stayed that way for a few weeks (too long).  And then I got my own personal miracle.  The doctor’s office called (initial panic) with the happy news that  my specialist deems one of the vaccines to be perfectly safe for me.  So – drum roll, please – next Saturday, 20th March 2021, I am to have my first of two jabs.  After carefully noting all the details I rang off and the celebration began in our home – twirling, giggling, happy claps, jumping and lots of hugging.  That thing with feathers has perched in my soul again and I shall do my damnedest to see she never leaves.  

The vaccinated world we will soon inhabit (fingers crossed) will be unimaginably different from the one we’ve known all our lives.  We won’t be the same people we were pre-pandemic.  There will be lessons to be learned by our successes and failures in warding off, battling and coping with the coronavirus.  The thing is, these types of lessons are the ones that settle in the deepest, that perch in our souls. I   see these lessons generating more compassion, tenderness and generosity in that new world and hope I am right.

And how will you rejoice in our new-found, even if limited, freedom?  Are you imagining a dinner party?  Who will you invite?   What will be on your first menu? What music will you play? What will be your first toast?  Which tales will you first share?  

I’m dreaming of gathering the ones I love the most, cooking for them, dimming the dining room light a little, lighting the candles, pouring the wine and saying, Welcome, I’m delighted that you are finally sitting at our table again.

’Til next time, y’all…

*Emily Dickinson from her collection, Poems.  Full text below.


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830 – 1886) is one of the most well-known, influential and significant American poets.  She is perhaps the original social-distancing poet, living much of her life in seclusion.  I imagine she’d have been perfectly content with the stay-at-home orders of this year of the COVID pandemic.

Wildflowers are the most hopeful of all blossoms.  Their seeds float on the breezes and they flourish wherever they settle.  My wish for you is that your heart and soul are as strong as wildflowers – able to thrive in the harshest of locations, resilient to the summer’s scorching heat, the winter’s deepest snows, beautiful and unrestrained.  xx

4 thoughts on “The light at the end of the tunnel.

  1. This was so beautiful – and your photographs are breath taking. I’m so glad you are able to get the vaccine. I too am immuneo compromised and the discussions with my oncologist have been a lot of “will they- won’t they allow us to get the vaccine”. The news seems to change daily to be honest. She thinks I should be able to get it since it isn’t a live vaccine – as long as it happens on a chemo break. I feel like I spend a lot of my day thinking about what I will do once I get the vaccine. I too want to invite people over and cook for them. My daughters are planning all the sleepovers they will have once us parents are all vaccinated.

    • PamelaPerraultPhotography says:

      Hi Melanie. This is my second stab at responding [very red-faced]. Thank you for your kind words – it means the world to me. I completely empathize with you over the thoughts of what freedoms vaccination may offer up. So far, and based upon the sheaf of papers we all received, the answer is – at least initially – nothing changes at all. Perhaps it will after the second jab, but that wasn’t mentioned. Still, protected is a wonderful place to be and it isn’t at all lost on me that I’m one of the luckiest ones. You’re too right, news does seem to change daily. The only sure thing is that the medical professionals and scientists are learning as they go, are updating the information they give us as soon as they can confirm its veracity, and are constantly researching. Honestly, I don’t think there’s any other/better way to approach this pandemic. Please do take great care of yourself! Heaps of love from me to you. xxxx

      Oh, and chocolate porridge??? Heavenly – we’re making it this weekend!!! xx

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