I’ve said very little about the coronavirus in this column over the eight-month run of the pandemic.

Instead, I’ve tried to provide a break from the unsettling topics that have dominated our lives in the long nightmare of 2020.

Now, it’s hard to think about anything else, as the virus outbreak reaches levels we haven’t seen yet.

We thought last spring would be the worst. In fact, we might have been “hunkering down,” to use our governor’s term, too soon.

It’s hard to say how bad it might have been in April and May if we hadn’t gone into hiding. Maybe the surge of infection we’re seeing now would have happened back then.

Now that it’s more necessary than ever, too many of us are tired of being cautious.

The issues become emotional as we head into the holidays. Our families are facing painful decisions about whether to gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

On one shoulder is a voice telling me that spending time with our children and grandchildren is worth the risk — and if we wear masks and keep our distance when dining, we can pull it off safely.

In my other ear, I’m hearing health experts warn us to avoid congregating with people outside our households. They remind me that I’m more likely to catch the virus from friends, coworkers and relatives than from strangers. My conscience nags that if I really love my kinfolk, I won’t risk our health this year.

That’s only one of the tough choices ahead.

I’ve taken safety seriously, wearing my mask faithfully whenever I enter a space with other people present. So far, so good.

I’m lucky that a mask doesn’t bother me — and actually does wonders for my appearance.

The most risky thing I do these days is my job as a journalist. I speak with news sources who aren’t wearing masks, and I spend hours in public meetings with elected officials who don’t cover their faces. Some local leaders (several older than me) sit side-by-side and talk bare-face-to-bare-face as if there’s no danger in doing so.

All of this had me wondering last spring if it was worth continuing to work as a newspaperman. I’m past “retirement age” and could afford to stop and stay home — but I’m not ready to ride into the sunset.

Now, the odds of catching COVID-19 are higher than six months ago. On the other hand, I’ve watched people who are older than me, and less physically fit, catch the coronavirus and recover nicely.

If you’re waiting for the part where I reveal my answers to these dilemmas, sorry to disappoint you. I thought I’d be wiser after seven decades.

It seems to me that the key to staying healthy in 2020 is self-discipline.

So far, I’ve managed to show self-restraint in another dangerous arena — Facebook.

You might call me a Facebook voyeur. I watch, but don’t participate except for clicking an occasional “like.”

I’ve learned a lot about people by reading what they say about politics and the pandemic. It takes every bit of my will power to keep my mouth shut and not dive into the dogfight.

I have a full folder of Facebook friends who must think I’m their most boring contact.

A childhood acquaintance sent me a Facebook friend request last week. I thanked her for the invitation and noticed that she writes more Facebook posts in a single day than I do in a whole year.

But first, I expressed my sympathy for the loss of her brother, John “Jack” Molitor, who graduated two years ahead of me at East Noble High School. He died unexpectedly in late October at the age of 71.

One of the brightest students in his class, Mr. Molitor went on to become a lawyer. His obituary described him as “an accomplished attorney who specialized in matters pertaining to zoning and city planning.”

He worked for the city of Carmel, and in news reports after his death, city officials praised his integrity, judgment, knowledge and good humor, all of which made him “the bedrock of Carmel’s land use program.”

Carmel often shows up on lists of America’s “best places to live.” Kendallville native John “Jack” Molitor played a big part in making it one of Indiana’s most attractive cities.

I hadn’t seen him decades, but we crossed paths last year, and he seemed fine. Now he’s gone, and the coronavirus had little or nothing to do with it.

Life is fragile. One popular Facebook meme says we should celebrate with our families this season because it might be the last time. Or would it simply be guaranteeing a final farewell?

Dave Kurtz is the editor of The Star newspaper. He may be reached at dkurtz@kpc media.com.

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