On March 13th, 2020 I picked up my children from school knowing that they were coming home for "six weeks of distance learning" due to the impending lockdown in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Washington Governor Jay Inslee was mandating restrictions to shelter-in-place, meaning we were going to be canceling all plans for the foreseeable future and staying at home. There would be no finishing my son's flag football season, no Spring break trips, no playdates with friends or family, no birthday parties.... It was the beginning of a long season of loss, disappointment, grieving, fear, and anxiety.
I think if we would have known then that we would still be battling this thing a year later, still not back to "normal," still wearing masks, still social distancing, still waiting for our turn to get the vaccine... that we would be grieving the loss of over half a million Americans, and countless lost jobs and businesses... I really don't know that we could have handled it. I mean, did we "handle" what we did know? I remember the great fear of the unknown. We just didn't know enough about covid, how it was transmitted, who was most at risk, what the "best practices" were for staying safe... and so staying at home was the best we could do. And so we did. We did not go out or see friends or family. I remember even being afraid to go to the grocery store.
In some ways we have been focused on just surviving this global pandemic, even as it still continues. And I recognize with the great strides the US is making in moving towards a return to normal with the distribution of vaccines, this is a huge privilege that many (most!) countries are not even close to being able to do for their citizens. How do we process the collective trauma while still in it? How do we remember and mark this moment when it truly isn't over?
For me, it looks like making intentional time to remember. I went through pictures on my phone from the last year. I noticed large gaps where there were no photos. I marveled at the beauty we made even in the midst of the uncertainty, the fear, the loneliness. I was in awe of my kids' resiliency: They finished their school year online (my eldest finishing elementary school, not the ending we had planned!), and then in the fall starting homeschool for the two youngest. This was so hard! For them. For me. For everyone. And we did it because we had to, because this was the best we could do in this season. Because this is what it looked like for our family to "get through" covid.
I came away with a sense of awe and gratitude: Awe for all that we have endured, for the grief and pain and how I can see now that it is growing something stronger in us. And gratitude for bits of goodness we have experienced, for the resiliency being built in us, for the "turning towards" one another that my nuclear family experienced. I can see the progress and movement only when I take the time to pause and reflect, to remember how long and how far we have come.
One year ago, life was different and so was I.