2020. A Year in Review
When I sat down to write this post, I didn't know where my thoughts would take me. I had no agenda except to write a tribute, or perhaps more appropriately, a send-off, to 2020. There's no denying this has been a year unlike any other. Last New Year's Eve we toasted 2020 with excited anticipation, innocently unaware of what was to come.
There were many things I was looking forward to in the coming year, including my daughter's high school graduation, a summer vacation to the coast of New England to show my daughters the landscape where my husband and I fell in love, family get-togethers and celebrations, professional pursuits and book events. Well, . . . hindsight is truly 2020. When Covid-19 became a reality in the early months of the year, I had no idea how completely our lives were about to change. I still remember the last few meals I ate at restaurants without paying attention to the proximity of other diners and worrying about what steps the restaurant had taken to sanitize and disinfect surfaces (my birthday fell in early March, and my celebrations with family and friends were some of the last I enjoyed before we all quarantined. How strange not to see everyone in masks!).
I remember the last time I spoke in person about What She Lost. I did a book signing at an adorable little bookstore where the audience and I sat close together as I read an excerpt and signed copies of the novel. I presented to the most wonderful group of young reader's in my daughter's 8th-grade Language Arts class around the same time. Their energy filled me with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose. Before introducing me to her classes, my daughter's teacher joked about stocking up on hand sanitizer and listened with amusement to her students discussing which stores were the best to buy supplies for the classroom. Little did we know that two days later, school would be shut down for the year. Little did we know that within weeks, the quest to find toilet paper, paper towels, or sanitizer of any kind would be like searching for the holy grail!
A new reality emerged.
Everything from work to education to social interaction became remote.
Anxiety and depression soared.
Amidst this global upheaval, racial and political unrest was everywhere, and in general we all felt on edge.
I spent most of the spring feeling exhausted and weak due to a medical issue that, thankfully, was resolved. But having to have surgery in the midst of the pandemic was a scary prospect. I was nervous the day my husband dropped me off at the hospital, knowing he wouldn't be by my side to hold my hand and assure me everything would be okay. The staff, particularly the nurses and my doctor, put my mind at ease so I didn't feel so alone throughout the day. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all the healthcare providers who have helped so many this year. It has been a trying time, and you are the true heroes of 2020.
One of the hardest parts of this year was saying goodbye to both of my grandmothers. I know how fortunate I am that they were in my life for so many years. I know how wonderful it was for both of my girls to share so many of their milestones growing up with their great-grandmothers. I know how extraordinary it was that these incredible women both lived well into their 90s and were able to witness so much in their lifetimes. But entering this new year without them still feels hollow, and the pain of their loss is with me every day. I love you, Bubbe and Gigi. I will carry my memories of you both as I move ahead into the new year.
Despite all the trials and hardships of 2020, there was an abundance of good. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. This past year showed us the meaning of adaptability and gratitude. We learned to adapt by wearing masks wherever we went, to ensure the safety of not only ourselves but those around us. We learned the importance of hand-washing and social distancing. We learned to live with inconvenience, but we were still able to live. My youngest daughter started her freshman year of high school with so many safety protocols in place, but because of these measures, she was able to have a successful and even enjoyable first semester. I was so impressed by her accomplishments this year, from her incredible academic achievements, to completing first year in color guard, to having her artwork exhibited at a local restaurant, to working for social justice and speaking out against wrongdoing. She has inspired me to be a better person.
We also learned to appreciate the milestones in life, even if they didn't occur the way we had expected. My oldest daughter graduated high school in a setting unlike any other (our basement), and while she didn't have the pomp and circumstance that I remembered from my own graduation, we were together in the comfort of our home, watching a moving and very personal commencement ceremony that her school put together for the class of 2020, cheering at the top of our lungs and hugging her tight when her name and picture flashed across our television screen. We stood at her side as she was handed her diploma on "Operation Diploma Delivery Day" and didn't have to watch from some distance in a crowded auditorium. And even though she started her freshman year of college at a time when so much is on hold, her dreams are still the same. She successfully finished her first semester as a fashion major. While she'll be finishing her second semester at home, by the start of sophomore year, she'll be back on campus and looking forward to having her own apartment, reconnecting with the friends she made, and planning for her semester abroad (fingers crossed!).
It was in the quiet moments this year that I truly found peace. My husband worked from home so we spent many, MANY hours together. We often joke that it's a good thing we like each other, but the truth and significance of that fact was evident this year. He is my best friend, and while we can get on each other's nerves, there is no one I'd rather spend my life with. With our daughters now young women, the plans we had to travel together and go on more adventures this year were temporarily put on hold, but we gained so much in the long run. We have enjoyed every minute quarantining with our two wonderful girls. This year, we started a garden, binge-watched TV without any guilt, worked on lots of puzzles, played lots of games, enjoyed time in nature, baked and cooked as a family, and it was truly a wonderful feeling to be all together.
We learned how to be together even when we were apart. We learned the meaning of connection. The saying "You're in my bubble" became synonymous with "I choose to be with you." We learned to appreciate our health and the health of those we cherish. Whether it was socially distancing with my friends or Facetiming with my family, I learned what was truly important to me, and valued every moment spent with those I love.
So while we all look to 2021 with the hope that things will go back to the way they were (hello concerts, movies, dining out, vacations, LONG hugs with friends and family), there are so many lessons from this past year that I will hold close to my heart. I will try to appreciate each and every day. I will make sure to tell those I love how I feel about them freely and openly. And to all of you, my readers and followers, I wish you nothing but the best in the new year. May all your wishes come true.