We've had the "quarantini," the "quaranteam," and now the "quarantinaversary," a bittersweet notation of one year in the bored/panicked/sad/hysterical timeframe since COVID first upended our daily lives. For those who have experienced great loss, for whom the time has been purely bitter, I am truly sorry. For the rest of us, who have experienced inconvenience and fear but averted catastrophe, we recognize our fortune while at the same time wrestling with an amorphous sense of loss.
Our children have lost some of their education as well as socialization skills and abilities. Cherished rites of passage such as baptisms, confirmations, proms, graduations, birthday parties have been moved, removed, or observed in stripped-down, somber variations of the normal. We all miss loved ones, physical contact and a sense of optimism.
But that optimism is creeping back, sending smoke signals above the horizon, which we might see when we venture out of our homes and bunkers. Many members of my masters swim team have vaccine appointments and on this sunny Saturday morning they compared notes about which vaccine they will receive, and when. My sister got her first vaccine last week, in the nick of time before the kids come back to school. In our district, all of the teachers and staff will be fully vaccinated and safe two weeks before they bring the children back to middle school and high school full time, to finish out the school year with a semblance of normalcy.
So this anniversary marks not only our sorrow at a troubled year but our perseverance in conquering its obstacles. We helped those in our communities, we celebrated health workers who toiled beyond the limits of human endurance to help us, we elected a new administration and embarked on a more hopeful path. Every person reading these words has struggled through difficult days, clawed his/her/their way out of bed when bed seemed like the only safe place, and made the world just a little bit better for those around them.
As we mourn those we've lost, as we recognize the trauma felt by a nation, we can also celebrate our strength and collective determination. We can proceed with caution, with masks and distancing, even as we allow the bubble of hope to swell within us and buoy us through the remaining struggles of the pandemic.