It’s Been a Year

It’s been almost a year now. 

A year since I thought a quarantine sounded like a fun break. 

A year since I was mad that my March 17 conference in New York City was canceled. 

“It’s just like the flu, isn’t it?” I ranted at my co-workers, who were also mad that we weren’t going to be descending on the Big Apple. “Would they cancel the conference just because it happened to be during flu season? It’s insane!”

(In hindsight, I was being an ignorant brat and I am so, so, so thankful they canceled that conference. A conference. In New York. In March 2020. I get chills when I think about it now.)

A year since I had no thoughts or opinions or ill wishes for people wearing masks on their chins. 

A year since I learned that you’re supposed to cut the elastics on disposable masks so they don’t choke sea turtles or something. 

A year since I was obsessively wiping my packages and groceries and door handles. 

A year since the toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages. 

A year since I started my sourdough starter.

And then, as the timeline eases toward the end of the month, it gets darker. 

A year since my 83-year-old father got sick. A year since I convinced him to call an ambulance and watched them load him into it and couldn’t go with him because of COVID restrictions. A year since they had to take him to three different hospitals before finding one that was still accepting patients. A year since the hospital called to say they were admitting him with pneumonia – not COVID-19, but not a great prognosis for a guy his age. A year since I tried to explain to him, sick and confused, that I wasn’t able to come see him. A year since he was discharged home, weak as a kitten and dependent on oxygen – and me. A year since I sneezed in his presence and then immediately started hyperventilating and shaking and crying because I was certain the sneeze meant I had COVID and had essentially just murdered my father. 

In the weeks and months that have followed, we’ve all learned a lot. These days, I double-mask but no longer spray down my mail. I’ve finally sent my younger daughter back to school but am keeping my older one home. I’m pretty sick of sourdough. I have plenty of toilet paper. I would rather cut off my toe than attend a massive in-person conference (although I did just attend a virtual one and don’t know that I wouldn’t prefer that format even in non-pandemic times). 

Perhaps most important, my father has recovered and received both doses of his COVID vaccine. The days we spent together during his illness and recovery were scary and sad … but also weirdly sacred and special. 

As we start to move through the one-year milestones on many different COVID-related events, I’m finding myself full of emotions, many of which are conflicting. 

I’m grateful to have made it this far with my closest family members still well. I’m proud of what we’ve learned and done. I’m amazed by science for getting us to a vaccine so quickly. I’m furious at selfish behavior that puts us all at risk. I’m grieving for friends who’ve died of this disease. I’m sad and angry for all of the loss and suffering. I’m in awe of medical workers and essential workers and grocery store workers and teachers. I’m never going to feel comfortable in a crowded room again. I can’t wait to get back to normal. 

It’s been a year now. 

It feels like a blip. 

It feels like a decade. 

I’ve learned a lot. I’m not sure it was worth it.

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