What I’ll Remember From My COVID Year

There was no way of knowing at the end of 2019 what the oncoming train of 2020 would bring. Accompanying the state of the year was a series of rolling disasters: the California and Australian fires, the killing of George Floyd, an acrimonious political campaign marred by baseless allegations of fraud and illegal voting, and the worst pandemic the world has seen in more than a century. 

But in the midst of the tragedies, there was courage, grace, sacrifice, hope, and there were people faced with the very worst rising up each day to be their very best. Few will recall the year with anything close to fondness, but it will surely be remembered with no small measure of pride.

I know that when this all passes, we’ll appreciate how technology has helped us stay closer to our families, even though it’s not a replacement for personal connection. I’ll remember how I grew a greater appreciation for teachers and how they put all their time and effort into being flexible and lenient for their students. I’ll remember how kids and teenagers pushed themselves past their limits and boundaries, refraining from being kept locked away in their own minds.

We’ve seen the world shrink as we watch the spread, and even more, as we begin to feel the isolation and limitations on freedoms we’ve always known. I’ll remember how blowing out candles on your birthday before COVID was seen as a norm, and now is seen as something unthinkable. I hope I won’t forget the risks doctors and nurses have taken, and the sacrifices they have made to keep us well. 

I’ll remember the days where I was forced to slow down, to find quiet, to keep the balance. I’ll never take the importance of long conversations, the sounds of birds, dancing to music, reading, or writing for granted again. I’ll remember the first time where politics actually became interesting, and when we had to protest for basic human rights. I’ll remember all of the Zoom meetings where I was fighting to stay awake.

I’ll remember how I wasn’t able to go see the newest movies in the theater, or to go to school to see my friends again. I’ll remember how March 16 was expected to be the first day of an early “spring break,” then quickly turned out to be the longest break from school I have ever experienced. I’ll remember how this year was anything but normal. 

While emotions can act as a volume knob on a memory’s strength, 2020’s back-to-back events will be the loudest in my head.