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?