On February 29, 2020, a Washington citizen became the first in the United States to die of Covid-19.
Twenty-twenty was a “leap year.” Twenty-twenty-one is not, yet it has “leaped” over that important date.
There is no February 29 this year to mark the ominous anniversary of what would stretch into twelve months of masking, sanitizing, seclusion. It was a year of Zooming, fear, political unrest. It was a year of sickness and death. We all experienced some measure of social division, depression, and occasional outbreaks of dark humor. I spent an inordinate amount of time reading perpetual newsfeeds, as well as doing jigsaw puzzles, and napping, and consuming videos with my chosen “Pandemic Pod.” Surviving, but not thriving.
There is no February 29 this year. No one-year anniversary date on the calendar.
As I begin to write this essay, it is March 1, 2021. More than 500,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, 5000 of them in Washington. This morning a friend mused about the past year, wondering out loud whether she had “used this time well.” It was a “year-to-live” kind of question, the sort Stephen Levine asked in his book of that title. If this were your last year of life, how should you live it?
But how does one know, either that it IS a final year, OR that one has lived it well . . . or not?
Have I used this time well? Not as fully as I might have, had I had access to a functioning crystal ball on February 29, 2020.
Every day, every moment, of this past year has been lived on the exhausting, awesome, awful cusp of history in the making, of a year without precedent politically, socially, epidemically.
It has been breath-taking, breathlessly amazing, and suffocating, all at once – much like the novel coronavirus to which, gratefully, I did not succumb.
In those circumstances, I guess I’ve done the best I could.
Today is March 1, 2021. It sits on top of an invisible anniversary on the calendar. This afternoon I got my first covid vaccination at a local pharmacy. I felt buoyant, almost giddy as I drove home.
As if I’d just been given a new lease on my life.
As if this is the start-point of a whole new year of my life.
Will I use it well?
The best happening of 2020 was baby June popping into the world and our arms on March 2nd. That event called for us to bring more energy towards sustaining this amazing planet so that all children everywhere can thrive. I found myself filled with deep joy by the level of intimacy I experienced by staying in place watching each leaf unfurl, hearing the morning birdsong, watching nest building, fawns taking their first step. I took frequent media fasts to keep my blood pressure under control. We await our 2nd jab hoping it does not involve the numerous cancelations of the first.
Grateful to have celebrated June’s 1st Birthday and longing to see smiles as well as eyes.
“Media fasts” – the best medicine for hypertension! It feels pretty amazing that we’ve gotten through the past year. The election, the inauguration, and my first vaccination shot were all highlights of my year. I, too, am awaiting word on an appointment for the booster shot.
Good question, Cynthia. Pondering an answer…
The year, for me, has both flown and frozen. I’ve done a lot of writing, taken up baking, Zoomed a lot of meetings and family get-togethers. In the main, I wonder why it wasn’t a year of mega-productivity. Why haven’t I finished the book I’ve been working on forever? Read all the books in my To Read stack?
I’ve read some interesting stuff about reduced bandwidth—too much of our attention may have been blasted by the constant barrage of dreadful events.
Two friends have died, and a great-nephew got the virus and is doing OK now. We get our second shots tomorrow after a not-merry online chase, day after day, to get appointments. The stories of others, not as lucky, are heartbreaking.
Now, the light is shifting, and I’m writing, writing, writing.
Someday, maybe in this second pandemic year, we’ll actually be able to lunch. Has Timbuktu survived?
Lunch is definitely in our future! Timbuktu was sold, is now Jupiter Cafe, and probably could use our patronage as soon as we are fully vaccinated (I get my booster in two weeks).
I echo the awe and sometimes despair of this past year that you have acknowledged. Sometimes my focus was just on surviving. Often it was embracing my boredom to become more creative. Thankfully my church needed me in a new way & provided a voluntary part time job for me, at least giving me some purpose.
As an introvert, I’ve been OK with isolating. That said, it’s been a year and it is getting old. I’m ready for spring and new life! And it is coming. There is hope with spring as God designs the seasons and knows when that butterfly will emerge from its chrysalis.
I’m half vaccinated. Visiting my 90 some year old parents without a mask and distancing will be soon and I am eager to give them a hug. They have survived this long season for which I am grateful.
And oh, the tales we’ll have to tell to the young’uns who won’t remember!
It has been a most interesting year. Amen to the news feeds on the phone, and MSNBC. I must say, I keep looking at the feed, but it is not nearly so interesting as it has been. Thank god. Have I used the time well? I have used it differently, for sure. It will stand out in my memory.
Twenty-twenty – what a time to have a career as a historian! Somebody recently suggested that we use 2020 as a new profanity, as in “Oh, 2020, I just dented my fender!”
Hello love! What a poignant tribute to the past year. Thank you for the reminder of the first death and the date. It seems to be a metaphor for everything else that fell through the cracks of the unrelenting chaos. I feel so happy that you are well and I celebrate with you the momentous event of being vaccinated! It lent a sense of much needed buoyancy! Much love to you Cynthia!
Having reinvented myself as a poet, I reckon “Metaphors R Us”!
Thank you, Cynthia, for your thoughts which echo mine. As the sliver of the moon recedes in the morning light I, too, am grateful to be alive, more relaxed politically, looking forward to dining responsibly with friends, and praying daily for the health of us all.
We seem to be more aware of warm gratitude and simple pleasures now – and one of them is knowing we are “connected” by the moon – the same sliver you see shines in my window as well.
Holy, s__t! I have vacillated between being joyful for being alive and raging at the white supremacist backlash that has politicized mismanagement of COVID and continues to do so. Are we as a species really this stupid? Well, stupid is not the correct word. We have been under the influence of a group of people spewing lies and manipulation so that now the BIG lie is alive and well. I am utterly amazed at what has unfolded and my only recourse is to consistently petition all the powers (ancestors, animal allies, fairy people, spiritual teachers etc.) to help us wake up before Momma Earth just gives up in disgust and flings us all off the planet. For me approaching my 80th year I say I am ready for the fling but for all the youngers my heart is breaking.
Just keep remembering that it is WE who will slowly, compassionately heal these wounds. WE the Elders, WE the youngers, WE the People.