This was the year we will always remember but not with photos or mementos. It will be forever marked by pages left blank in photo albums and on line collections which used to chronicle our most important life cycle events and the mundane ones as well. All the celebrations and important events that never were from birthday parties, weddings, graduations to funerals and memorial gatherings. And the ordinary stuff…that fills our days when we are with other people enjoying bbqs, sporting events and just plain hanging out.. It was all missing or diminished in our lives in 2020 from when the virus struck.
This was the year we won’t be able to remember what we did in the summer because we did not do anything. Gone were the lazy carefree days at the beach and pool. Gone were the family get-togethers, the reunions and picnics. Gone were the big trips writ large on bucket lists. Gone were the little getaways too. Passports stayed in the kitchen drawer or file cabinets and the suitcases stayed in the garage or closet. Bucket list travel dreams were not checked off. They remained distant pipe-dreams to ponder over when we could not sleep at night… and there were many nights like that.
This was the year of our undoing when worry and stress burrowed in to our hearts and minds and took a room and didn’t pay rent and decided to hang around as unwanted visitors. Daily corona virus tolls and death counts were overwhelming. It became almost too much watching the rolling statistics or hearing the individual stories of the ordinary people lost to this virus, cutting across all ages, ethnic, and social lines, from a senator to a greeter at Walmart. The corona, the spiky invader, showed no mercy.
We learned how to fear everyone and became experts at dodging our neighbors on the street, masking up to go to Safeway. We could no longer see a smile, just troubled, worried eyes rushing through the aisles. We learned to fear an enemy we couldn’t see which stole lives and livelihoods every day. We had to surrender to this enemy following the guidelines we heard repeatedly from the experts. In an Abundance of Caution dot dot dot became our every day mantra.
This was the year we craved being with our families because we were told not to. We missed human contact the more they told us to stay away and keep our distance. We waved at mail carriers and UPS delivery men. We got in touch with distant cousins and long lost friends. I reconnected with several friends from grammar school. We missed hugs and touches and kisses on the cheek.
This was the year going on Zoom became as ubiquitous as taking a shower, between zoom classes, synagogue services and zoom parties; kids on zoom for school, zoom zoom zoom. My sister even got married on Zoom. We became mavens at Zoom get togethers and birthday parties. I zoomed my book launch and celebrated my 70th birthday with my family on a Zoom call. We have to be grateful for this technology because that is sometimes all there is keeping us tethered to other people, warding off loneliness and depression.
This was the year we got down to basics learning way less is more. I learned to explore my own neighborhood, walk in the redwoods, see the magnificent trees that were so close but I was too busy with I don’t know what to notice. We let our hair go natural, learned to do without mani/pedis…all the little things we took for granted that we can live without. This was the year we re-discovered cooking….eating at home became easier, safer, less hassle.
This was the year we learned that the integrity of our sacrosanct election system, the foundation of our democracy, could be questioned and maligned. This was the year when truth was so beaten up it had to go on life support. This was the year that racism reared its ugly head on too many occasions and the rest of us had to take a hard look at our attitudes and our conscience. This was the year democracy was rent and torn.
This was the year we had to face ourselves in the mirror because there was no place to run and hide, and nowhere to go. We had to learn how to grasp time and spend it wisely because even though we had all the time in the world, it felt like time was speeding by like a runaway hourglass. This was the year we had to face reality and look our own mortality in the face because especially as seniors there were no guarantees of anything.
I so look forward to putting this year behind me, being with my grandchildren and not worrying about kissing them from head to toe, reuniting with my family in Israel, having normal family events and holiday celebrations all the little and big things we have been missing but hopefully be able to do once again.
This was the year we will never forget.