ROBINSON: Joy still needed in time of coronavirus

Amelia Robinson's cat Tigger has strong feelings about Zoom calls.
Amelia Robinson's cat Tigger has strong feelings about Zoom calls.

This commentary by Dayton Daily News Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Sept. 13.

A Sheba-crazed cat with eyes and fur the color of honeycombs has appeared in more Zoom and Microsoft Team meetings than I ever imagined.

He plopped right on what used to be our dining room table right after I set up my computer and monitors.

For his comfort, I added his comfy, round blue bed.

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Every once in a while, when the calls are getting particularly important, Tigger will pop his head or paw in front of the camera for all to see.

If the Sheba calls his name too loudly, he’ll wedge his fat body between my laptop and main monitor and drag the detachable camera on his fat as he squeezes by.

Tigger is sassy and his attention-seeking Tiggerisms are cute and funny.

Cute, funny and sassy are important at changing times like these. I look for them. They’ve helped keep me grounded and optimistic that this is just a season.

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Like most of my colleagues at the Dayton Daily News — and perhaps even you — my husband and I have been working from home since around the time COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

A thing so small that neither Tigger nor I can see it with our naked eyes has up-ended everything. What we’ve known as spring and summer were canceled. Winter and fall don’t stand a chance.

Six months have passed and what we had hoped was a thing that would be gotten under control has claimed more than 190,000 American lives, rocked businesses and sent millions to food pantries.

Amelia Robinson's cat Tigger has strong feelings about Zoom calls.
Amelia Robinson's cat Tigger has strong feelings about Zoom calls.

The virus is only half of 2020′s story. You know that.

Fresh in my mind is the cold white milk that dripped down a young black man’s face three months ago during my last assignment as a digital reporter.

Like him, I was tear gassed during the biggest of the protests here in Dayton that followed the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a then-police officer in Minneapolis.

Despite a stinging in his eyes much worse than anything I felt from the gas, I watched as the young man called for equality still denied despite payments made with blood and tears.

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Denied humanity.

We’ve lived through a hot spring and an even hotter summer.

There is always hope, but there are no clear signs of the cooling we’d want in particular when it comes to the coronavirus.

On Sept. 3, University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation researchers released a forecast that predicts as many as 225,000 more Americans will die COVID-19 by the end of 2020. That forecast would bring our total to 415,000.

It is a key model, but of course just one forecast of many. Still no matter how you slice it, the coronavirus will claim thousands upon thousands of lives this year.

The thought of such sorrow could be crippling. It is certainly frightening and heartbreaking.

Yet I look at Tigger dreaming of Sheba in his bed.

Outside the windows is the pineapple-shaped hummingbird feeder I set up a few months ago. I spray painted the metal parts red to the delight of the hummingbirds and a bright red cardinal I often catch perched on the hummingbird’s hook.

He might just think the feeder is a mate. How cute and funny is that.

That hummingbird feeder sure is sassy.

We all need sassy.

We all need joy.

Amelia Robinson is the Dayton Daily News Community Impact Editor. Her column has appeared in the newspaper since 2005. Contact her at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com.