Affixed discreetly to the bottom corner of my front window is a small ‘heart flag’, a Canadian flag with a heart replacing the maple leaf. Made out of paper, the colour is fading and if you look closely, you’ll notice that the tape holding it in place has been reinforced.
During my community’s pandemic lockdown two years ago, a local newspaper conceived the idea for this flag and then encouraged their readers to cut out a full-page version from the newspaper, or print one off from their website, and adhere them to windows as a show of support and a thank you to the health care front-liners.
As the story goes, the wife of a local flag maker saw the newspaper’s feature piece and asked her husband to make one. He made two of them. He gave one to the editor-in-chief of the newspaper and the second one to a popular TV personality.
That’s all it took and the orders came rushing in. ‘Heart flags’ flew all over town. Printouts of the flag appeared on windows, on lamp posts and front lawns. Together with rainbows, these became local symbols of solidarity, gratitude and hope.
A lot has changed in the past two years. The prolific display of flags and symbols are gone. People have moved on with their lives. They go to work, they shop, the children are in school. Restaurants, hotels, recreation and entertainment venues are open. Even global travel is available for those who want it.
And with the recent lifting of public health recommendations, many think the pandemic is over.
Last weekend I was out walking along the beach with my Hubby. We came across a ‘heart flag’ waving in the wind. For me, this display represented both a token of continued gratitude for the burned-out health care front-liners, and a reminder that the pandemic is not necessarily over for everyone.
As for the little flag in my window, it will remain there. I’m hopeful that one day, both the household by the beach and I will be able to retire our flags.