Has It Only Been a Year?

Spiritual Smart Aleck


Celebrated my one-year anniversary of being in isolation this week. Most of us are observing that one year milestone: isolation, quarantine, sheltering in place, lockdown, pain in the butt, whatever you want to call it.

Looking back at the year in review, I feel like 2020 nearly finished me off. The stress was huge: the life-threatening virus, the contentious election, and being isolated with only the dog and cat for company worked on me hard. It has taken me until now to recognize how hard it has been and see some of the cracks that have opened in my psyche under the strain.

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.” – “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen

Good old Leonard Cohen.
The last year has been hard on everyone, even without job loss, business failure, and losing your home because you cannot make rent or mortgage payments. I hear that many people who have never been depressed before are now dealing with situational depression. Clinically depressed people also have situational depression. However we label it, we are all bummed out, for good reason.

My sincerest sympathy to all of you. All of us.

And that is before reckoning with the loss of people we loved, or the losses of our friends and extended family.

I have a whole new understanding of the meaning of the word, “plague.” I do not think I will be able to use it casually to say something is “plaguing me” anymore. Nope. Whole new perspective. I think I had an attitude that this was something that happened far away and long ago – the Spanish flu in 1918, or the Black Death in the Middle Ages – or Ebola in Africa, for example. Not that much to do with me, right? The Covid-19 pandemic has been right here, right now, and has everything to do with all of us.

As more of us are vaccinated, there is an anticipation of returning to normal. I can see the light in peoples’ eyes and faces, even on zoom.

Oh, to go to a restaurant, a movie, a play, an opera, a church service – a choir practice!
Oh, to get together with that gang of mine over coffee or tea or guitars, mandolins, and violins, to laugh and talk like we used to back when there was no harm in it.

Oh, to have weddings where we do not have to worry about some or most of the guests contracting Covid-19 and dying.

Oh, all that normal that we took for granted all our lives, until last year.

We have Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Gen Y, Millennials … will the children of this time be known as the Covid-19 generation? I am talking about the children who are growing up with this plague as part of their lives. Many of them will not be able to remember the Time Before. How will their attitudes be affected by living with the virus all their lives?

The whole world is different now. It would be different than it was at the beginning of 2020 anyway, but not this specific kind of different, the one with 2,700,000 people dead worldwide from this virus and its variants, and about 550,000 people in America alone dead from the virus.

Those statistics count the people we knew had Covid-19. There were people who slipped away without anyone knowing it was the virus that took them.

Driving up to town this afternoon I heard a program on the radio of people talking about the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. They talked about the good stuff that had happened. They mentioned getting to know people in their neighborhood because now they were taking walks, with or without dogs. They talked about money saved and stress averted by working at home – no commute, no wardrobe to keep up, a tank of gas lasts for weeks or months. No high heels!

Okay, so parents are going out of their minds with home schooling, and many women have given up their jobs/careers to come home and take care of the kids, but this part is about silver linings.

They found they had become closer to family and friends far away because they got in touch more often, via Zoom or Facetime or video calls. We have had to try harder to stay in touch with people, and we have had more time to do that. More time to be human.

There are some changes I hope we will keep as pandemic restrictions ease up, like livestreaming church services and other events, and meeting on zoom. Some people are not able to get out, pandemic or not, and now there is technology that includes them, and this is a good thing. We need each other.