When I was young, I used to look up at the stars and wonder who else in the world was looking at those same stars. Back then, the Earth seemed like such a massive planet and just thinking about people in other countries was a fleeting moment. Today, I find myself looking at those same stars and I honestly feel a connection to every human under the sky. Imagine how weird it is that almost eight-billion people have become connected to each other because of one common enemy.  Regardless of race, religion, color, or creed, we are all fighting the same evil virus that is spreading like our other enemy — wildfires. 

 COVID-19 has found its way into our lives forever. Even when it has finally subsided and we come out on the other end, this will be with us until each one of us takes our last breath.We will tell our kids, grand kids and great-grandchildren about that time we lost Roll up the Rim, the NHL and even the Olympics. Future generations will hear about how school, graduation ceremonies and weddings were cancelled. The most heartbreaking cancellations involve people not being able to have funerals for loved ones.  Weddings can be postponed, parties can be pushed, but you can’t put off a funeral. I know a woman from Kamloops who has a big, loving Italian family. Rather than everyone being able to gather and honor her life, they were restricted to immediate family members only.  My heart goes out to local businesses who have had to close their doors due to this crisis. Many of these retailers already have a tough time keeping their doors open, so seeing those“closed” signs is gut-wrenching. My biggest hope when they all re-open is that we, in this caring, empathetic city, will become loyal local shoppers and help them rebuild.I pray that nobody in their right mind will go to Kelowna or Vancouver to do their shopping. Wedding dresses, shoes, appliances, restaurant meals and vehicles can be and should be purchased locally.  Each community in B.C. will look after its own. As proud Kamloopsians, let’s do the same. Let’s take it one step further and support local tourist attractions, as well.

The lasting effects of this pandemic will be greater than we can imagine. There is, however, something bigger than this virus. It is something we can spread quickly and we can start now. It is love. I know there have been times of panic, frustration, and anger. I have experienced all of that. These feelings are real and it’s OK to have them. But it is also important to find a way to feelings of comfort, calm and humour. I highly encourage each of you to follow Pluto the Dog on Instagram. Pluto will make you laugh and cry at the same time. This dog will help us at our lowest times. Pluto is spreading Love.. Let’s be like Pluto.

I am also a small business owner. As a matchmaker, I really do believe love can conquer COVID.  Love will endure through the toughest of times. Right now, I want to send love to all of you. I am sending love to the two sponsors of this column: Nandi’s Flavours of India restaurant and Save-On-Foods. Nandi has had to temporarily close his restaurant for dine-in business, but he is offering a discount on take-away orders. Nandi gives so much to this community, so please order a delicious meal from him to help him get through this time. Meanwhile, just because Save-On-Foods is busier than ever does not lessen the stress of the crisis for the business and its staff. Employees have had to endure panic buying and encountering people at their worst — and they have done so admirably. Save-On has opened early for seniors and the vulnerable in our community. Please thank the staff as you buy your essentials.I am sending love to those truck drivers who get the items to these stores. I am sending love to those people who have faced a layoff. I am sending love to those health-care workers on the front lines. I am sending love to those people getting chemotherapy treatments. I am sending love to those people with compromised health, young and old, and to those with mental-health and addiction issues. Please reach out to your counsellors or sponsors. I am sending love to the hard-working journalists in Kamloops who are faced with adversity; while advertisers have had to cancel, journalists continue to bring you fast, factual, vital information you can rely on (see Tim Shoults’ column on page A8 of the March 20 edition of KTW).

Take a moment and look up at the sun, moon and stars. Someone else is looking up at them at the very same time, thinking the very same thing. They are thinking of those three special words. No. not “I love you,” but “Flatten the curve.”I would love to hear from you. Contact me by email at holmes@wheretheheartis.ca.