On New Year's Eve, I did something I can never remember doing before. I went to bed before midnight. No watching the ball drop in Times Square, no toasts to 2021, although I was never more happy to see a year go than 2020; instead, I snuggled in bed with my three-year-old granddaughter and wasn't even aware when 2020 had slipped into history. That tiny body next to mine, emanating the heat of youth, filled me with such hope that I went to sleep with less worry on my heart than I have had since the word Covid appeared in early 2020.
2020. I never imagined I would have to worry about finding toilet paper, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, or eggs and meat. I never imagined a world without hugs, a world where I would need to wear a mask and stay away from those I love to protect them and myself from a virus that spreads with impunity. And I never believed I lived in a world where at the most, selfish people denied the virus's existence, or at the least, refused to follow guidelines that could save others.
In 2020, while I learned what it means to fight an enemy that can't be seen, touched, or heard, I watched that same enemy take over the world. During this pandemic, the United States held an election for president that was unprecedented in it's anger, bitterness, and hatred. While I stayed at home to hide from the Covid scourge, thousands grouped together to protest, rally, and spew hatred. I watched and wondered how many friends and family members, vulnerable sick and elderly, and unsuspecting people would they infect? As the number of sick and dead rose, I watched as people shed their masks and resumed their daily routines. I listened with horror as people said, "you can't live your life in fear," "I demand restaurants, gyms, and hair salons open," "children should be in school," and "it's my right NOT to wear a mask." As hospitals filled to capacity and mobile morgues were brought to house the dead, I heard people say, "The number of cases isn't that high - what about false positives?" "It's just like any other flu!" "Do you really know anybody who's had it?"
But in 2020 I also saw much goodness in the world, and that has sustained me. Healthcare providers went into the hospitals and cared for the sick. I passed ambulances on the road, no doubt carrying Covid patients. I saw those, like my son, working in public places to provide services to keep the world moving forward, even though cases rose everyday.
HOPE. With this new year, I want to believe all the old cares are gone, but Covid is still here and it's still deadly, but with the emergence of a vaccine there is hope. I can now hope for a family vacation at the beach. I can hope to board a plane or train again without fear. I can hope to return to Scotland and Ireland. I can hope to live in a world without masks and social distancing. I hope children can return to schools where they won't have to sit behind plexi-glass shields and wear masks. And more than anything, I hope that soon I will drive by the local elementary school and see children climbing on the playground equipment, chasing each other in play, and not wearing a mask!