I don’t need to remind you of how difficult this year has been.
But as an honest writer, I can say to you that as I look forward to 2021, my words are filled with doubt and concern.
I find myself writing resentment and hate towards 2020, with the same residing passion you would find in a burning love letter, or a determined and jaded Yelp review.
As quick as Zoom calls get awkward, many opportunities fell short, and experiences were put on hold. Whether that meant cancelled internships, or postponed travel abroad—we lost a year of meeting new strangers, going on dates, travelling, connecting, and sharing. We lost a year of our lives.
And as we grieve those very real losses, some of us also grieve the losses of loved ones. The nation has lost hundreds and thousands of mothers, fathers, daughters, siblings and sons during this pandemic, and that pain is going to take some time to heal and will leave a scar.
It’s going to take some time to process.
I lost my father during the pandemic, and as I was grieving his loss, I was so detrimentally worried about how it would affect my mother that I ignored the damage it was causing myself. The day after his passing, I got sick. While in pain and two bags deep of Halls lozenges, I underwent three separate COVID-19 tests to be sure it was simply a stress cold triggered by a culmination of my distress.
I had to carry the grief for the loss of my dad along with the fear of losing my mom if she happened to get sick. Even after receiving my negative COVID-19 test results, I spiraled downward at a time when I needed to keep my head straight.
I wondered how I could protect my mom from a broken heart, bills piling up and from a raging pandemic outside of our doors.
Because of pandemic social-distancing rules, there were many nights my dad spent in the hospital alone where my family and I couldn’t be with him. Remembering that time taken away from me and imagining his fear breaks my heart.
I’m fortunate that I was able to be by my father’s side during his last moments, knowing that many others were not given that same chance. But nonetheless, his absence hurts.
My resentments towards 2020 are personal. I’m sure the feeling is the same for many others.
There’s no list long enough that can itemize the reasons why we might not ever forgive this year, but I also think it’s important we don’t forget the difficult lessons it has taught us. In terms of burying the trauma and pain this year has caused, I think it is best to instead look back upon it as a period of time we can grow and derive strength from.
Although it would be nice to believe the troubles of the world will disappear once the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, 2020, it would be a massive disservice to tell you that is true.
That isn’t to say you should put down your champagne glasses and take off your party hats. I think everyone deserves a cathartic farewell to the year that wouldn’t stop kicking us while we were down.
So raise a glass to the end of the year, and pour one out for the suffering we’ve all endured.
Looking into 2021, I am less hopeful than years before, but I look forward to being proven delightfully wrong about its outcome. I’ve become more appreciative of the small joys in life and I look forward to having that fresh new start feeling as the New Year’s ball drops.
I look forward to a new year where a vaccine seems closer and closer. I look forward to hugging my family members again, and I look forward to going out on dates with the boy who has made me smile when all feels lost.
If we mask up, adhere to Centers for Disease Control distancing guidelines and listen to the science on how we can protect ourselves, we can do it.
After everything that has gone on during these past 12 months the mantra I’ve continued to repeat is “Muscle through, you’ll catch a break soon.”
I’m tired. And I know you are too.
But I think that 2021 will be our break. We will get the chance to rejoice and dance together again; we just need to hold tight for a little while longer.
Even with my concerns, I’m excited for the future. I’ll be walking into the new year without my dad, saddened that he won’t be by my side, but comforted knowing he would want me to be happy and experience the outside world once it opens up and regains normalcy.
I’m looking into 2021 with hope and tears in my eyes, at the same time whispering under my breath, “Don’t ruin this for us.”