Mine began like most others, which meant hoping for a few hours of sleep before midnight.
I knew the dogs were going to wake up soon, both of them frantically whining and running in circles because they couldn’t stop the gunshots that always start right before midnight. The next morning, I watched a replay of the Big Apple coming down in Times Square.
Still, even then, my routine was off-kilter.
I had severely stretched a glut muscle a few weeks before in a yoga class I loved. Classes were done for me, at least for a while, because the pain was so intense that I had needed a powerful shot and prescription strength pills to make it through the day.
Plus, I missed the Hubster.
We had moved to Oregon six months before. But, my spouse also wasn’t ready to leave the band director and music teacher job in California that he loved. So we had made a deal.
He found a small apartment; called every night, and promised to visit for long weekends and holidays every six weeks or so. Come summertime, the plan was that he’d give up his place down south and officially retire here.
But, teachers never stop teaching.
So, once relocated, the Hubster planned to mentor teenagers, especially those needing the steady hand of someone who has lived in their shoes. By Valentine’s Day, I had my own milieu, donating time at two grammar schools, where I read to at-risk students.
I loved the interaction and even though we weren’t supposed to accept hugs, sometimes, I did.
It was around this time that I saw a frightening post from a Facebook friend in Los Angeles.
A teacher, she described suffering through the scariest respiratory infection she had ever had. She had gone to urgent care twice in one week, and the second time, was sent home with an inhaler and steroids. Doctors had no clue what the mystery illness might be.
We know now it was probably COVID-19.
Other events caught our attention, of course.
Donald Trump was impeached in Congress but acquitted by the Senate. Not long after, we learned he had known all along how dangerous and contagious the virus from Wuhan was going to be. Instead, choosing to “play it down,” he announced that the infection had affected only a few Americans and “like a miracle,” was going to go away soon.
There were crazy wildfires in Australia, too, and later in the summer, millions of acres burned the West Coast. Citizens in the United Kingdom continued to fight over Brexit, and filmmaker Harvey Weinstein finally went to prison for rape.
Also, basketball legend Kobe Bryant perished in a helicopter crash, his teenage daughter beside him.
Then came what might be the biggest reckoning of the year.
In May, 46-year-old George Floyd bought cigarettes at a convenience store with a $20 counterfeit bill. He was arrested by Minneapolis cops, who then chocked him to death. Worse, squeezing the last breath out of Floyd lasted for nearly nine minutes, all of it captured on cell phone video.
While there were other killings of African Americans by law enforcement earlier in the year, and in previous years, too, this stayed with us.
Within a few days, and despite a raging pandemic, tens of thousands of people around the world took to the
streets, continuing their vigils into the summer and fall. And unlike the civil rights marches of the 1960s, a majority of
the protesters were white. Also, despite what some media outlets reported, more than 90 percent of the gatherings were peaceful.
Hopefully, Floyd’s passing has marked the start of addressing the systemic racism that has always been a part of
Still, the virus was the headline.
We wore masks, washed our hands and social distanced. Schools went online, which was difficult for teachers and parents, but even more so for children. The Hubster stayed here, teaching via Zoom, and also knowing he wasn’t going to return to California. Interacting with teenagers up here wasn’t about to happen anytime soon, either.
For me, unhurried lunches with new friends and afternoon movie matinees stopped almost instantly. Yoga sessions and volunteer work halted, too.
COVID-19 has put our lives on hold.
We definitely have what is called pandemic fatigue. We’re grumpy and we snap at each other. Nearly as often, we find ourselves both infuriated and frustrated when we hear about friends who, despite clear guidelines from the CDC, travel to other states for weddings and family get-togethers. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
Yet we’re lucky.
We have each other to hug. And, we’re able to pay our mortgage and put food on the table.
But an astounding 22 million Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and 800 small businesses are closing every day. Food banks are running out of food, and more hospitals are at a literal breaking point, some having little or no available ICU beds or staff. As people lose hope, murders and domestic abuse and suicides are rising, too.
Through it all, a good part of the country continues to move in the wrong direction.
Three days after Christmas, 333,000 Americans have died from the virus, and almost 20 million of us have contracted it, sometimes leading to permanent organ damage. Equally unsettling, a disproportionate number of those affected are elderly, poor, and nonwhite.
Still, there’s a glimmer of light.
Two COVID-19 vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and the other from Moderna, were approved for emergency use
by the FDA last month. In order to work, two shots must be administered 21 days apart, but together, the dosage has
an astounding 95 percent rate of efficiency. Politicians, health-care personnel and essential workers are the first getting immunized.
At the same time, the vaccine isn’t a magic bullet.
It works more like a dimmer switch, slowing the virus down until the contagion level has nearly vanished. We hope to be at the front of the line in March, but we also know that masks and distancing will be necessary for some time, perhaps most of next year.
I’ll take it.
Also, we’ll soon have a new President of the United States.
While Joe Biden wasn’t my first, second or even third choice, I’m thrilled with the team he is assembling.
He chose Kamala Harris, a woman of color, as his Vice President. And he has named Pete Buttigieg, my number one POTUS pick and openly gay, for a cabinet post, another first. Other Biden appointees also reflect the diversity of America, and all seem poised to take on global warming; public education, and our crumbling infrastructure in new ways.
I hope we never have another year as awful as 2020.
Then again, I know that winter always turns into spring.
We’re going to be okay.