I think we can all agree we are done with 2020. It dredged up a whole mess of rage, hate, disappointment, emptiness, hopelessness and fear. We’ve been on this ride now the majority of the last ten months, and like a smoker ready to ditch the cigs, it’s time to put the year down and snuff it out of our collective misery.
The last large group setting I recall was in January for a company holiday party. Still undergoing chemo, I managed to step into fun, new culottes, make up my face and head out for the festivities. My hair was in high shed Charlie Brown Christmas tree mode. Instead of hugs, I maneuvered air hugs – Covid foreshadowing? – since a tight embrace could release strands primed for falling onto someone’s lapel, and the jig of presenting any modicum of normality would be up.
It’s time to put the year down.
March had my older son on a midnight train to Georgia, and the comfort and gratitude of our family together again. Leaving Covid’s NYC stronghold, he rode home to resume college classes online, as his high school senior brother would be doing. Virtual meetings would have to do, despite the inconvenience and sterility of experiences on-screen. Imagine those navigating their own pandemic, 100 years ago, without these human connection work arounds!
The virus took center stage for much of 2020, but as NBC’s Lester Holt noted, “All was not well in our pre-Covid days.” So much needed our attention and still does: hunger, voting rights, climate change, gun violence, systemic racism, and a political divide so deep that the two sides can’t even agree on what they disagree on.
The year’s setbacks and challenges were relentless. The chief challenger, Covid-19, was no joke, no hoax. It didn’t care if you looked away. It didn’t care if you didn’t care for masks. It could and can still find you. It’s taken loved ones, jobs, it’s taken an enormous toll. Covid and its ensuing fatigue rages on, but we must keep going.
All was not well in our pre-Covid days.
Wives are missing husbands, sisters missing brothers, and our overly scrubbed hands are tied: we can’t hug one another or say a proper goodbye when it’s time. Still, there are helpers, quiet peacemakers, tireless frontline workers taking the hit, restaurants remaking themselves to feed their staff and us, staying alive for all our sakes.
For all its challenges, 2020 brought us an election, a chance to let our choices be counted and count they did. Again and again and again. We voted, and here in Georgia we voted a second time. We’ve got ourselves a new president – Bye Don, Hello Joe – and in the weeks before his inauguration, he has been rolling up his sleeves and facing this mess head on.
The year challenged us each personally and our fellow humans globally. There were businesses to grow, yourself to know, college acceptances to see, the promise of chemo’s IV. Ring the bell, your tale to tell, keep evictions on hold, people out of the cold. Empty nests are full again, yet so many people are hungry, walking around with faces covered, hiding fear, loneliness, regret.
There’s a vaccine too, several of them, and despite underwhelming distribution, we see movement and actual potential, a path to immunity. 🎶 Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vac-c-i-ne, 🎶, I’m begging of you, please don’t take your time. We’re not getting our old normal back, but I think something better and brighter is coming.
Even our poinsettias, many hibernating during 2019, decided this year to make a go of it, bursting open as early as Halloween. We took to social media, posting without delay, should those buds realize it’s 2020 and suddenly call off the show, retreating until a respectable year comes around.
In lieu of lingering into the new year, some folks are packing up their Christmas cheer, clearing the decks to free up space for whatever it is 2021 will need. My own tree issued a DNR, so once it stops drinking water, I know it will be time.
We’re not getting our old normal back, but I think something better and brighter is coming.
We’re dangling and we can feel it, this pivot before us is real, though shifting us into what, we aren’t exactly sure. For now, simply into something else seems enough of a gift. For months, yard signs begging for an all-encompassing, Please Make It (2020) Go Away, seem to be granting us our wish: 2021 will arrive on schedule.
On the 2020 list of positives are several reassuring constants, challenges, and improvisations, which have brought light and resilience and comfort. With so much loss, we still have sunrises and sunsets, full moons, the scent of magnolias, holidays, changing seasons, good foods to cook, to taste and to share, and the natural world out there. You can still lose yourself in the soothing stillness of Yo Yo Ma, cheer on front line workers, marvel at and join in those who have carried on making music, building things, championing science, sticking with that puzzle until every piece is in place. Every day is a reset, a day where you can adjust your swing, pick a better club, walk versus ride. I’m heartened by how we can all adapt — our kids, our colleagues, our businesses and hospitals. We are all in this together, and there will come a day when we can once again hug each other the right way.
Until then, so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night, the year will end, and all its crazy fright. I bit you adieu, adios, addio, 2020. You are going, have no doubt, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.