What comes after the pause

March 9, 2021, 6:33 p.m.

Courtesy of “WandaVision,” I’ve been watching a lot of Marvel recently (if you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend checking out Arts & Life staff writer Kyla Figueroa’s articles linked here). The show covers a lot in nine episodes, moving from Marvel lore surrounding the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame” to an exploration of grief. 

For those who haven’t watched “Endgame”: The Avengers managed to undo “The Blip,” which was when Thanos used the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half of all life throughout the universe. Those who came back from “The Blip” came back the same age, while the rest of the world had spent five years moving on.

“WandaVision” shows us the immediate aftermath. The sudden undoing of “The Blip” brought people back to a world they didn’t recognize, and I fear something similar may occur with the aftermath of this pandemic. With the U.S. now vaccinating about 1.6 million people per day, hope has become much more tangible, and the end of this nightmare feels closer and closer. Still, though, the question remains: What comes after the pause?

After a year of this, do any of us really know what to expect? For some individuals like essential workers and doctors, the world never came to a full pause. On the other hand, I know friends who haven’t seen their family in person since January 2020. And then comes the question of grief: What happens when we realize what we just collectively experienced? What happens when we have the first family gathering post-COVID and Uncle Billy is missing, or Tio Miguel? How do you explain that to the 4-year-old cousins, or rather, I should say, the 5-year-old cousins who have since grown way taller?

What happens when you finally grab lunch with your friend and realize you’re in totally different places now? What happens when you find you no longer care about the things you used to care about? What happens when you feel lonelier than ever before even though you’re no longer isolated? What happens when it’s not just you who can’t figure these questions out but an entire world who’d rather just move on? What happens?

The truth is, we won’t know — or at least not until we get there. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start thinking about it, and it also doesn’t mean there aren’t some things to look forward to, like the first hug after more than a year or the first conversation with a friend and feeling like no time has passed.

As we see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, life continues on after “The Blip,” but it doesn’t come easy. Some victims of Thanos’ snap were displaced and left unhoused after five years. Similarly, after a year of this pandemic, we are all feeling this collective loss differently. I think we all will be happy when this pandemic finally ends, but we should continue to assist the most affected and vulnerable and strive toward a better, more equitable future after this pandemic.

Richard Coca '22 has previously served as editor of The Grind for volume 258, managing editor of Satire in vol. 257, and CLIP Co-chair in vol. 255. He is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Anthropology. Contact him at rcoca 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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