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KOUTOULAS: The real heroes

These are trying times. 

I know this isn’t the most insightful statement of the year. The thing is, the times are much more trying for some of us than for others. I think I finally came to that realization just last week. 

It’s comparatively easy for me to enthusiastically support our governor’s efforts to curtail the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m safely at home with my wife, one of my two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson.

All the adults in the family are still drawing a paycheck or unemployment benefits.

Other than the inconveniences of having so much closed down, our lives are relatively unscathed.

Oh, we gripe about not being able to have a beer at Abettor or enjoy a nice dinner at Loma’s.

We complain that we can’t take our grandson to the playground.

We bemoan not being able to go shopping or take in a movie.

But we have plenty of food. We are safe in our comfortable home. We don’t need new clothes or gadgets. We can afford to order takeout when we don’t feel like cooking.  

We see this time as a time to reflect, to enjoy a slower pace of life, to do more reading or enjoy other stay-at-home pursuits. 

Considering the possibilities, we consider our lives to be good. 

From this vantage point, we aren’t really sacrificing much by cheering on and heeding the instructions of our astute leaders who are taking bold and drastic steps to “flatten the curve.”

But today I’m thinking of all the people whose lives have been completely upended by this pandemic, those who are truly hurting as a result of the economic turmoil inflicted upon them. Those who suffer, and yet, are solidly behind the necessary steps being taken. 

I’m thinking of those who have suffered real hardships in terms of economics, health, stress and separation from loved ones.

I’m thinking of grandparents who can’t hold their precious grandchildren, people living alone and people with little or no internet access, a near-necessity in this time.

I’m thinking of people who have lost their jobs for an indeterminate time — perhaps permanently, people still being forced to work in dangerous environments, first responders, medical professionals, grocery store clerks, truck drivers and more.

I’m thinking of people who have suffered physically from COVID-19, people who have loved ones who are suffering and people who have lost loved ones — thousands of them in Kentucky alone. Even losing a loved one to some cause other than the coronavirus is more painful and stressful in these times. 

Their pain will go on much longer.

I see you. 

I see small business owners suffering greatly. They worry about their own future and that of their employees. They are forced into making decisions that could have tragic consequences for both. 

I see people who have suspended their medical treatment to conserve personal protective equipment for medical professionals.

I see single parents in constant fear of what might happen if they or their children should get sick. 

I see parents struggling to add to their job description that of teacher, doctor, playmate, best friend and counselor. 

I see people living in abusive relationships for whom “healthy at home” is not safe at home.

If anyone has a right to complain, to play the victim, to resist the necessary measures to contain this plague, these people do. 

I can comply with all the restrictions with little pain. 

This column is dedicated to those who suffer and yet comply. They are helping to keep all of us safe. They are heroes in my book.

I see you. I see all of you, and my heart overflows with gratitude.

I won’t forget you.

Pete Koutoulas is an IT professional working in Lexington. He and his wife have resided in Winchester since 2015. Pete can be reached at pete@koutoulas.me or follow him on Facebook at fb.me/PeteTheSun.