2020: A Year of …. What the Hell.

How can I even put the year of 2020 into words? Typically around this time, I’d look back on the year that was, the travels I went on, new things I tried… but goodness, how do we even begin to look back on 2020? Hundreds of thousands of people died from the coronavirus. The pandemic, the lockdowns, the shutdowns. The election. So much bad, so much pain, so much suffering for so many people. It seems foolish to even try to find any positives out of the year.

2020 was the year that everything went on pause for a while. Where we worked from home for a few months before trying to go back to some semblance of normalcy. Where our hockey seasons were shuttered, suddenly, in mid-March, and our lives were thrown into disarray. But it’s also the year that our family welcomed a niece (Iyla, in January) and found out we were adding another nephew (due in February 2021) and another niece (summer 2021). Ryan and I celebrated four years of marriage – and I don’t think I left New York state once all year. (Is that right?!?)

It’s also now been more than a year since I last saw my sister & her family, since they live in North Carolina. I miss them dearly, as well as all of our other nephews & nieces, but I’m also grateful for video chats and phone calls that help us feel connected during these socially-distant times.

2020 felt like the longest year, and yet also the shortest year. All I can say at this point is: I’m glad it’s over, and hopefully we’re seeing some light at the end of the tunnels here, between the vaccines for COVID-19, the upcoming inauguration of Biden, etc.

Here’s to hoping those lights at the end of the tunnels aren’t oncoming trains.

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The Pandemic Fatigue is Real.

Not that anyone needs reminding, but we’re living through a pandemic right now. It’s exhausting, right? Hundreds of thousands of people have died. People – with real lives, families, friends, hopes and dreams. Many more have gotten sick. Some have recovered, but some still have long-lasting effects from COVID-19, months later. You think you’re healthy? Think you don’t have any pre-existing conditions? You aren’t safe, either.

On top of the physical stress, there’s the mental aspects. Knowing that you can do everything in your power, and you can still catch the virus. Knowing that at any time, you could unknowingly be an asymptomatic carrier. The uncertainty that lies ahead. The uncertainty of another lockdown. It’s emotional, too. Not knowing when you’ll be able to see family or friends, or go out and do the things you love.

Unless you’re a billionaire, it isn’t possible to thrive in the midst of a pandemic. It’s hard enough to just take it one day at a time and try to survive through another day, another hour. Another holiday. And on, and on, and on.

The pandemic fatigue is real.

I’ll admit it: I’ve let my guard down a little here and there. Yes, I wear a mask every time I go to the grocery store. But sometimes I don’t wear one in the hallway of my apartment building. I wear a mask every time I see my mom, even while we’re in the car and I have to make sure my glasses don’t fog up while I’m driving. But sometimes I’ve seen other family members who aren’t wearing masks…. and I haven’t worn one, either.

But a Twitter thread I saw just the other day reminded me: I can’t afford to let my guard down. I can’t afford to be lax about this; none of us can. Because all it takes is one encounter, and who knows what can happen? I would be absolutely devastated if I had COVID and unknowingly passed it on to one of my young nephews or nieces, or my mom who’s on the higher end of her 60s. What would happen to my family if I got suddenly very sick? Or, if I recovered but had lasting health problems months later?

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We need to take this seriously. We need to keep taking this seriously.

It’s incredibly frustrating to see some people basically going about their lives as if we aren’t going through a pandemic. Getting together at restaurants with ten of their closest friends for a fun dinner… how I wish I could do that! Going to a bar, just to hang out. Having parties and holidays with entire families…. and no masks. It’s frustrating. It’s irresponsible. And it’s the reason we’re still here, seven months later, still in a pandemic.

As the holidays are approaching, this is an awful crossroads to be at. But how can I spend time with family this holiday season if no one’s wearing a mask? It isn’t safe. How can I miss the first Christmases of my newest niece and nephew? But how can I risk it? How do I tell them that we can’t do this? The holidays are still a month or so off but I’m already thinking about it. I don’t know what to do. It’s not like things are going to suddenly get better in that timeframe. It’s not like everyone’s going to suddenly decide to wear a mask. So…. what in the world do I do?

I remind myself: there’s a reason I’m doing what I’m doing. I value my life, my husband’s life, and the lives of our families and friends – and their families and friends. I’ll remind myself of the more than 200,000 Americans who have needlessly died from this – including some people I know.

And I’ll keep reminding myself, over and over again.