Tonight, I bid you adieu, 2020.
But I will not forget.
Like a Gatsby party full of bacchanalian romps, too-eager partygoers ushered in this next decade with all the wonderment of a new era. There was such hope and eagerness for progress, on all fronts—moral, spiritual, ecological, judicial, global, national, and personal. The confetti rained down, the crystal clinked, and the number shifted from 19 to 20.
525,600 minutes later, without much pomp or grandeur, you fizzled to a stop as we felt a dizziness experienced from your revolving door of unfortunate events. No crowds pressed together, throwing caution to the wind, unmasked and reveling. No anticipation, wonderment, or felicity. Just yoga pants and early to bed, sleeping off the hangover caused by the dumpster fire that was our year.
I think I speak for all when I say that there is much of this old acquaintance that we want to forget, despite the honest truth that this 365 will be difficult to erase from our minds. From start to finish, you’ve proven an Everest to humanity, but if we wipe it all away, then with it goes the lessons learned.
Today, my eldest child sat quietly in the backseat, staring forlornly out the window as we left home for a quick jaunt of socially distanced errands before succumbing to another day of seclusion at the homestead, and I caught the emptiness in her expression, the glazed eyes of worry. Like the looming clouds above, threatening to drop their watery burden on us all, I read emotional inclement weather ahead. I almost swept it under the rug of denial I’ve been heaping the piles of 2020 under for some months now, but I felt a tightening in my chest, and knew, before she opened her mouth to utter the words, what was plaguing her.
“What is it?” I asked. She did not immediately reply, but a small sigh and a head tilt shifted her deeper in melancholy.
I asked her again, and this tiny, mouse-like voice, choked with a sob threatening to erupt, replied.
“What if 2021 is actually worse than 2020? I want to hug my friends again, see our family (Insert larger sigh). When will it end?”
Mustering up my best glass-half-full mother POV, I told her that all we could do was to look for the good and try our best to make improvements in the new year, even if they seemed meager.
She was unmoved by my Pollyanna-ing, and I did not offer it again, because, truth be told, I, myself was already thinking it. She just spoke my thoughts out loud, and they were both hollow and deafening.
We saw my father several hours later, and upon exiting our driveway to seek lunch, I reminded him of the need for a mask, and he was frustrated he’d forgotten this swath of fabric. I heard him mutter about the day whenever we would be allowed in public unmasked, and I couldn’t stop myself from musing—when will that be? When do we get to see what’s behind our masks again?
There’s been so much about this garbage scented year that I could be bitter and sullen about. We’ve been isolated from our loved ones, created a sense of paranoia about being in public or interacting with anyone.
We’ve turned mundane tasks into mini-getaways (solo grocery run at 7am, in a ghost town of a store? Yes, please!), and become hoarders of basic necessities like the apocalypse is at our door and zombies are threshing our toilet paper supply.
We’ve seen violence and hatred run loose like feral animals through the streets of major cities and small towns, division and despair overruling understanding and acceptance.
We’ve actually wondered if this is the beginning of the End Times, but covered our fear in silly memes, hashtags, snarky social media videos, and the like, claiming that an asteroid obliterating us would be a walk in the park compared to 2020. I’ve actually looked to the sky and wondered if this was a set of challenges designed by God to test our faith, and more often than not, the answer in my heart has been “YES.”
“But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne. We two have paddled in the stream from morning sun til dine; but seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.”-Robert Burns-
So, where does this leave us as we listen to the boom of combustibles, while wearing our yoga pants and sipping sparkling grape juice as we welcome a new calendar date? Do we say farewell to auld Lang syne, my dear? Is there a cup of kindness left to share?
This night is a far cry from the one we concluded a year ago today, and it reminds me of an earlier post where I mentioned the “B.C” (Before Corona) and “A.D.” (After Distancing) concepts. How little we knew then, and what a double dose of hindsight we have now that we can look over our shoulder!
Here’s the view I see.
We learned to cope through adversity.
We banded together, and adapted, almost overnight, in nearly every aspect of daily life, so that we could endure.
We suffered tremendous loss, but found more ways to gain empathy for our fellow men and women.
We found ways to lend a hand, whether sending assistance digitally, driving by in caravan, or lending our thrice washed hands to neighbor and stranger alike.
We worked through the oddly granted gift of time with those in our own four walls, and reminded each other we are not truly alone.
We found time for long-dormant ambitions, projects, renovations, and hobbies, weaving a rich new tapestry of talent, beautiful storytelling, and individuality.
Yes, it was messy, inconvenient, sometimes alienating, but it was. We can now use the past tense when we wake up in a new day, month, and year tomorrow.
We may be a little bruised, battered, or broken, but in the crucible of 2020, we were made stronger by it all.
So, as you see that ball drop and that last digit move to a 1, just remind yourself of this:
As the last chime echoes, I will not forget this old acquaintance.
However, I resolve to face the sun so the shadows fall behind me.
2020, here’s lookin’ at you, kid.