because even in the deepest darkness there is always some light to be found.
Here’s wishing you and all you love a happy and healthy New Year. That sentiment certainly takes on a deeper meaning now that we’ve seen the merciful conclusion of a year unlike any other, does it not?
There was way too much heartbreak, devastation, suffering, injustice, grief and ruin in the past 12 months. For all of us. Our family has not been untouched by the darker side of 2020. And the great tragedy, for all of us, is so much of it could have been avoided. Not all, but a significant amount. Because so much of the suffering we collectively experienced in 2020 was deliberately inflicted from stupidity, denial, ignorance, inaction and malice by people such as The Loser of the Election and his sycophants.
New Year’s Eve was marked with the United States on the brink of 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 345,000 reported deaths. Three belong to us: my father-in-law, my aunt, and my uncle (her husband). These are real numbers — not fake, not a hoax, not the fucking flu — that are sobering and hard to contemplate. And unrelated to COVID, there have been other equally difficult losses: a longtime friend from ALS, the continued deterioration of The Husband’s health from (quotes neurologist, rolls eyes) “symptoms that could possibly indicate Parkinson’s”, our beloved cat.
(It’s really hard going through a pandemic without a pet, let me tell you. I don’t recommend.)
But in the deepest darkness there is always some light and gratitude to be found. There is. Here are some things in 2020 I was (and still am) grateful for as we go into 2021, not really in any particular order:
1. That the four of us in our immediate family remained relatively healthy in terms of COVID. There were two rather concerning days in May when I was quite unwell with COVID symptoms but thankfully, I recovered quickly. Still have no idea WTF that was and really don’t care to know.
2. My job for keeping me gainfully employed (with health insurance) throughout the pandemic. As the primary breadwinner in this family, this was crucial. I’m lucky to work with a phenomenal team of smart, compassionate, understanding, flexible and witty as hell people.
3. Having enough to eat and the distribution of free food from our school district when the schools closed in the spring which helped us stretch our groceries further. The long lines for food distribution events coordinated by the local Food Bank showed all too well that others weren’t as fortunate.
4. Essential workers, especially the ones who brought groceries to the door and car.
5. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being elected as the next President and Vice President of the United States. Having this as the outcome of this long, bitterly divisive campaign is a relief, to put it mildly. The alternative would have been horrendous and the absolute end of democracy. I’m convinced of it. Joe and Kamala will bring decency and humanity and compassion back to The White House, a refreshing change from this regime. Twenty more days.
6. Our amazing vet who took such good care of our Mrs. Douglas — and us
7. Music, especially Melissa Etheridge’s live concerts via Facebook during the first few months of the pandemic, Bruce Springsteen’s “Letters to You” and Taylor Swift’s surprise album drops. I discovered a lot of new favorites this year.
8. Graduation from high school for my twins. What a ride these 12 years have been. I’m grateful for the teachers and educators who supported both of our kids through the years. This year I’m especially thankful for our school administrators for organizing what, in my mind, was a fantastic graduation ceremony: drive up, walk across the field to get your diploma, take a photo, leave. Much preferable than sitting in the blazing sun watching 545 other students doing the same thing.
9. Watching my son and husband laugh uncontrollably during their nightly routine of watching 80s TV shows. They’ve watched entire series of Diff’rent Strokes, Gimme a Break, Who’s the Boss?, M*A*S*H, Happy Days, The Flintstones. They created their own little jam session to the “Barney Miller” theme show that delights me every time they do it, which is only when they are in the mood.
10. I never watched so much TV as I have this year. Memorable moments were pulling an all-nighter with my son to binge-watch “The West Wing” and watching “Love is Blind”, “Schitt’s Creek” and “Grace & Frankie” with College Girl. “Top Chef” also kept me sane this year. “The Queen’s Gambit” gets my vote for the best show/series I watched.
11. Whether it was discovering the awesome trails in Frick Park here in Pittsburgh, watching the birds on the deck, or simply spending summer evenings watching the sunset, gaining a better appreciation of nature was a positive thing that came out of spending so much time in isolation.
12. Vaccines and the brilliant scientists who developed them.
13. Books. Like many people, reading was difficult for me during lockdown. I’m glad that rebounded and I finished the year with 58 books read. I’m grateful for the bookish community. People who are passionate about books are some of the best people.
14. Writing. This wasn’t exactly a stellar accomplishment but I wrote about 5,000 words of my memoir for NaNoWriMo. It’s a harder project than I anticipated but I’m planning to keep going in 2021. And I wasn’t too diligent about showing up here, but I’m grateful for this community.
15. Friends. Whether it was through texts, Facebook, six-foot apart masked chats in the work hallway, or heartfelt long conversations on the phone, my friends were an important part of this year.
16. My therapist. I’m grateful for her insights and presence. If she wasn’t my therapist, I would want her as a friend. And I’m grateful for health insurance that allows me to access this care.
and a final entry, in honor of a better year in 2021…
17. All of you. As always, whether I know you in person or whether we are friends on the computer, thanks for continuing to be part of my life. I’m grateful for you and being so supportive of all I do. Thank you so much. I love you all.
Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s to us and to those we’ve loved and lost this year. May 2021 bring us all more peace, kindness, hope and light.