I remember this week last year like it was yesterday. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion but also changing so quickly. I remember the last social plans I had. I remember the last time I felt normal. I remember when suddenly all we could talk about was coronavirus. I remember the constant stream of news. I remember as life changed forever.
Reflecting on One Year of the Covid-19 Pandemic
After my trip to Paris last February I returned to New York for a bachelorette party (what would be the last time I felt normal) and then I fell ill the day after the bachelorette concluded. I was so sick in a way I couldn’t quite characterize. After days and days of cancelled work meetings I went to the doctor and tested negative for strep and the flu. I was told to continue to rest and hydrate. I ended up being sick for two weeks with body aches and a persistent cough that would end up lasting much longer.
I don’t know whether I had Covid-19 at that time but having returned from Europe it’s possible and also knowing that I’ve never felt that way before – for so long – I had imposed a quarantine on myself that lasted for 14 days. By the time I came out of that for a last meal or yoga class the city was the verge of a shelter in place order. And then everything here in New York was different than I had known it. And would stay that way for the next 365 days.
I was ok in the end. I did what I always do to cope – put my head down and work and distract myself.
But despite my best efforts to power through – suddenly everything that was familiar became unfamiliar. And loneliness crept in. And sadness and deep anxiety.
As I said in my 2020 year in review – the past year has been a year that has challenged our beliefs, our certainty, our relationships and our livelihood. These past 365 days have tested our patience and our hearts and our minds. It further exposed the cracks in so many of our systems. It showcased where we’ve been broken. It had us reckoning things that should have been reckoned long ago. It exuded loss on a level I still can’t quite comprehend.
This past year we experienced unprecedented, unimaginable change.
Life, our plans and many of our goals came to a standstill. We were forced to face our deepest fears and insecurities. We faced racial injustice head on and witnessed trauma on so many levels. And it was a year I know I will still be processing for quite some time.
When the lockdown started I felt paralyzed. So much was vanishing before our eyes and suddenly I was living in the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak. I began to be fearful of going outside. Of grocery shopping. Of living alone.
I worried about my family. My older parents. My pregnant sister in law. I worried about getting sick. I worried about those losing their jobs and losing their lives. I worried about our essential workers and healthcare heroes. I worried about my friends and my extended family. I worried about my mental health. I worried about my livelihood. Cancelled and pushed back contracts piled up. Collaborations dried up.
I don’t think in my 35 years of life I have ever experienced a year with so much fear. Fear of death. Fear of loss. Fear of my career. Fear of the unknown. Fear of illness. Fear of what’s next. Fear of what could be worse. Fear of missing my loved ones. And it was a year that had loneliness seep in through every crack. It had me questioning decisions and reassessing priorities. It had me wondering to God “why?” so often. It was a year full of grief. And of so many, many tears.
There’s so much that I’ll remember from this time.
I know there are things I’ll never be able to do again in life without remembering this pandemic. Things that will certainly hold deep emotion and feel triggering. I will never, ever forget how New York City has felt during this time. Often silent. Broken. Lacking. So much emptiness.
And the past year gave birth to many silver linings, too. It opened my eyes to new ways I could challenge myself in my work and it showed me how strong and resilient I am in the wake of twelve months of loneliness and heartache and fear. It reconnected me with my friends and family in deeper, more meaningful ways and gave us more togetherness – albeit virtually. It gave me new found perspective on my many, many blessings. For all I felt I didn’t have this past year – I was also increasingly aware of all I do have.
One of those things I have is the community of wit & whimsy. I will never forget the company you brought me each and every day of the past year. Through comments here on this blog, through emails, through DMs, through Instagram shares and comments, through video interactions – it’s brought me joy even on the hardest of days. Through this we were less alone because of one another. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this company.
Last year I read in the New York Times something that really stayed with me “my most cherished hope is that we not forget the lessons we learned during this time about the value of creating and sustaining meaningful connections with other people.”
That will be my biggest takeaway from this time – that while so much was taken from us due to the pandemic – my relationships were deepened in many ways. I became more vulnerable and transparent with all those around me and I worked to manage the day to day realities of a life I never could have imagined.
I am starting to feel more hopeful as more shots go into arms that our world may be able to open up more before 2021 concludes. I am of the belief that mask wearing and other precautions will remain in our lives for quite some time but I’m hopeful that some normalcy and more togetherness will be able to resume soon.
I deeply miss travel and finding inspiration. I miss the chances to meet my readers. I miss socializing with friends. I miss hosting at my apartment. I miss spontaneity. I miss meet-cutes. I miss the faces of strangers. I miss in person meetings. I miss being one with my city in a way that isn’t wrought with nerves. I miss my family and my best friends deeply. I miss going outside and not having fear and anxiety coursing through my veins.
I know the uncertainty will continue and that there is still much to be fixed and improved. I know my fear and anxiety will not soon be retired.
The past year has challenged us. It has broken us. It has exposed us. But I know we will rebuild.
I know we will remember and honor this time and those we have lost and those who have bravely fought for us on the frontlines of hospitals and nursing homes and doctor’s offices and in pharmaceutical labs. I won’t soon forget all the courage I have seen exhibited. I won’t soon forget my gratitude for all who have looked after us and now allowed us to be vaccinated and forge ahead. Hopefully to a safer, healthier, brighter future.
I for one, am ready for that.