Reflecting on a challenging year.

I personally experienced loss, gain, sadness and even happiness which I wasn’t sure was possible during a worldwide pandemic. I hurt for everyone who has lost someone (family, friend, colleague) or something (job, home, savings). I have seen this virus affect people I know personally, both in the permanence of death as well as with the mental challenges associated with quarantines, lockdowns and an inability to see family and friends in person.

At the end of 2019 my wife and I spent what we knew were the final days with our much beloved kitty cat, MJ and weren’t able to travel “home” for the holidays. We would never leave MJ in her time of need, and we would be able to visit family sometime during 2020. MJ left us in early 2020, and that trip to visit family never happened… so now 2 years have passed without being able to share a meal, talk about nothing in particular or hug a family member. The family is healthy and we count our blessings every day… we are very fortunate, but wow it’s still been difficult.

I wrote a book, we fostered a shelter cat named Mia (and failed miserably… she now runs the house as a full-fledged member of the family), and we tried to make the best of the hand this year dealt us. Being home more than usual, I learned that our neighborhood has a lawn being mowed, trees being trimmed, streets, fences & roofs being repaired or some other plumbing, electrical or handyman related activity happening every day – this is no exaggeration…it’s every day! I kicked around the idea of asking the neighborhood HOA to set one day aside each week that is maintenance free, but thought better of it and dismissed this impossible dream. According to my missed call log and voicemail, my car warranty also apparently expired this past year.

2020 confirmed we have some wonderful neighbors… the kind that check to make sure you are ok, who ask if you need anything, who know we are stronger together than apart. We learned that people can be absolutely great humans in trying times, and sadly validated that trying times can also bring out the worst in some people. Is it just 2020 that is making some people behave badly, or is this how things are now? I hope it was just 2020.

I’ve seen some posts about saying goodbye to 2020 and looking toward 2021 with optimism. I want to be optimistic, I really do, but so much has happened – everything from natural disasters, racial injustice, political turmoil and what seems like lots of anger over things that shouldn’t make people angry. There are still months left before we’ll all have access to a vaccine, and even with that I fear the vitriol has elevated to a level that may be permanent. Let’s hope not.

My family and I have been fortunate, and we are thankful for what we have, but again… wow it’s been difficult.

For those who lost someone this past year, I am sorry – I know it’s hard. I hope you can find comfort and are able to heal those painful wounds. For those who are struggling for whatever reason, I am sorry. I wish your struggle ends soon and you are rejuvenated. For those who are looking for something they don’t have – I hope you find it. And for those who have much – I would encourage you to use your fortunate position to help others in 2021. It can be as simple as being supportive, understanding and kind. We’re all human, and everyone is going to have bad days, but when you are having a good one, take a minute to share some of that good with someone else. Small gestures can have a big impact and can offer hope to someone who has none.

Wishing everyone a healthy and safe 2021. Be good humans, be kind to each other, animals and nature.