I remember saying goodbye to 2019 and thinking it would be a difficult year to top, after all it was the year I got married. Towards, the end of 2019 I found a new position in my career which I thought would be my final stop. Life was full of change, hope and wonder.
For others, 2019 was a terrible year and many were excited to say PFO and enthusiastically welcome 2020. I knew 2020 likely wouldn’t be better, but with so much to look forward to in our budding future, how bad could it be?
Besides Trump’s daily rants via Twitter, we weren’t even midway through the first month of January 2020 when the year began to show signs of unprecedented tragedy. Take for instance, January 14, 2020 when Iran accidentally shot down a passenger flight where all 175 passengers were killed.
Then the wildfires of Australia, although the wildfires began in June 2019, the damage and destruction became a focal point in newsfeed in the new year of 2020. You could not turn on the news without seeing something about the wildfires in Queensland ravaging the land and poor wildlife. Haunted by imagines of charred kangaroos unable to escape and singed koala bears fighting for their lives.
I remember hearing about the Corona Virus in January and how it was in China and my first thought was, “meh, just another virus which will die off like SARS, Bird flu, and H1N1”. Then in February I had heard from my brother in South Korea and all who had been impacted there by Covid19 and still I thought there is no way it will come to Canada and if it does, it will be contained.
On Friday the 13th of March 2020, it was announced by the World Health Organization that we were in a Global Pandemic. No one was prepared for the magnitude of devastation this virus would cause. We didn’t know much besides social distancing was encouraged and to wash your hands often. Advice from health professionals changed on the daily as we tried to navigate these uncharted waters.
My new place of work began discussing how they would survive financially as I was working for not for profit at this time. I was told my position could not be guaranteed as safe and we were looking at plans to possibly lay others off until this passed. There was speculation as to how long this pandemic would last from some guesses of a couple months to a couple years. I had to make a decision as I thankfully had requested a leave of absence from my previous position I had worked in for 18 years. With tenure, job security and being in an industry which is always needed, (Health Care), I made the decision to go back to my old job where I knew I would be needed, and there would be no shortage of work to do. FYI – it turned out to be a very good choice.
Brian and I like to pay for everything in cash. If we don’t have the cash in the bank to cover the costs for something then it is deemed unaffordable. We delayed our honeymoon so we could pay for it upfront and not have debt accruing interest. We were to leave on May 23, 2020 and visit Vienna, Austria and then finish off our two week honeymoon in Budapest. We were hopeful this pandemic would be under wraps come May 2020, but we had no idea it would last this long. We canceled in April as it was obvious then we wouldn’t be traveling anywhere for some time. Brian was hopeful for the autumn of 2020, but nope…
When we had to go into lockdown and restaurants and shops shut down, it was a scary time for businesses as they had to figure out how to survive. Then there were others who panicked and bought up so much toilet paper that most grocery stores and pharmacies had empty shelves. To this day I don’t know why people felt it was more necessary to load up their shopping carts with toilet paper rather than food to survive. It is still a mystery to me…
Not knowing what to expect, grocery shopping became the big expedition. It truly felt apocalyptic. I remember saying to Brian “okay, I am going out there to get us supplies” and shopping as fast as I could and eyeing every person I came across as a potential threat to my health and safety. It was very strange and the hunt for toilet paper when needed caused great anxiety.
As numbers began to reduce in Nova Scotia heading towards June, then we were slammed with more bad news…
On May 25th, the world was horrified by the filmed murder of African American hip hop artist, George Floyd by police officers as we watched and listened to a man plea for his life with the words “I can’t breathe”. Something the world didn’t pay much attention to forced us all to pause and see an ugly truth as our social media filled up with many more similar stories around how black people have been abused and often murdered by authorities who are supposed to be keeping EVERYONE safe, not just the white folk.
Elijah McClain resonated with me the most because this kind kid reminded me so much of my brother who is socially awkward, introverted and loves animals. Elijah would visit animal shelters and play his violin to help cheer up the homeless kitties. It is very sad that it took all this blatant slap you in the face with reality to stop, pause and ponder what is really going on in the world.
All of the news around the injustices finally – FINALLY – woke me up to my blatant ignorance or brushing ugly realities under the carpet. I am still learning a lot and out of all this heinous truth filling my newsfeeds on social media, I am grateful as now I know more and knowledge is power and when you know something you cannot un-learn it.
With protests, riots and election campaigns Covid19 got to “super spread” as it continued to ravage the United States.
While life as we know it was put on pause, I pondered a lot about what really matters.For many this year will be referred as the “Annus horribilis ” of their lifetime, for me it has been an awakening to what truly matters. I feel a bit more educated on life outside of myself and I know we as human beings are much more resilient than we credit ourselves. Lots has changed as we have creatively adapted to these unprecedented times. It will be interesting to see how we move forward once this pandemic moves on indefinitely.
As we cautiously wait for the full implementation of a vaccine and pray that the virus does not mutate further, I wonder what adaptive changes will stick and which will be put to rest.
I know one thing for certain I am blessed and this has been an easy ride for me in comparison to many others. I have fared well and for this I am truly grateful. I am hoping to live a little more lightly & slowly in the New Year of 2021 and work towards detaching myself more from a materialistic life. I want to be my most authentic self and shed the masks I so often wear trying to be someone I am not. I want to stand up for what is right and get noisy about it when no one is paying attention. 2020 hasn’t been all bad.
Peace & Love – Rachel