Gotta admit, I’m awfully sick of masks. I’m sorta done with the whole thing. I’m ready to get back to living a regular life, maybe catching a Royals game this summer, going to a show. My wife and I, and our kids and our parents, are all fully vaxxed.

But then again...

This past weekend, a guy I’m indirectly connected with died from the coronavirus. He’s not from around here, so you probably don’t know him. But he was 51, with no major health problems, and he caught the virus about 10 days before. He had an up-and-down battle with it, but then over the weekend he went downhill very fast, and by Saturday evening, he was gone.

He leaves a wife and kids. He won’t be there to walk his daughter down the aisle. He won’t be there to see grandkids, or to go to grad parties. He was two years younger than me, doing all the things I’m currently doing. I coulda been him. He coulda been me.

Yes, he could have gotten the vaccine. I did. He didn’t. I didn’t know him well enough to know why that is, and I don’t care that much. One minute he was here. Next minute, he was gone. That’s all that really matters. Life goes on for me; life is over for him.

This all sort of shocked me into a realization: We’re nearing the end of a certain phase of the pandemic. But we’re not at the end of the whole thing.

There’s still a virus out there on the loose that can kill people like you and me. We have not yet achieved herd immunity. It can be transmitted easily from person-to-person, and there are new cases of it being diagnosed daily.

I do think it’s time to get rid of a government-ordered mask requirement. The one in Manhattan expires in a couple of weeks, which is about right. Health-care workers and the elderly are vaccinated, so the rationale for a lot of restriction is no longer applicable.

As an aside, I would say that if you’re in an enclosed space with a lot of other people, the kind and considerate thing to do is still to wear a mask. That will remain true for awhile. But here’s the thing: Get the vaccine. Get it. If you haven’t gotten it yet, just quit stalling. Conspiracy theories and paranoia are malarkey. Don’t believe me? Ask the family of a person who died over the weekend about that.

This guy was younger than me. He was not, you know, somehow health-compromised. He just simply didn’t get the vaccine, and now he no longer walks the earth.

The quicker everybody gets the vaccine, the quicker we can eliminate other restrictions, and get back to the kind of life we all want. Go get the vaccine.

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