It has been a long, strange year. That might be the most positive spin I can put on this COVID year…
Usually my year in review sums up my year of adventure, accomplishments and trials. With the lockdowns, adventure certainly took a back seat, and I found myself reliving more past experiences than living them in the present. And the trials… Oh, the trials…
The year started out so promising! After having surgery at the end of 2019, I was healing and feeling better than I had in a while. I took a weekend trip to the Washington Coast, and visited Cape Flattery, the northwestern-most point in the lower 48, and walked the beaches at La Push and Olympic National Park. Although I was moving very slowly, I did manage some walks that could be considered hikes, with plenty of stops to rest during and after. The King tides that weekend made for a spectacular chance to see the awesome force of nature, and we had a front-row view from a cabin on the beach. Who knew that that cabin (located on tribal land) would be closed in March and remain closed even now.
At work things went a bit haywire even before COVID, and I ended up spending several months working on projects I hadn’t planned for. Even now, one large project is still on my plate. I’m happy to be valued, and glad when I can do some work that stretches my mind, but 2020 provided a bit more than my fair share. I look forward to the day I can spend more time focused on my regular duties.
In March came the first wave of lockdowns. My last day working in the office (other than a handful of days here and there) was March 17. Since then my coworker-cat Cora has been by my side at about 3 pm daily, demanding her early dinner. Let’s be real – she would be happy if I would give her two or three dinners each day, but she would no longer be able to walk!
But March also delivered another blow. My sweet horse Biz got sick in early March. Fever and lethargy. I drove home early from a trip to California for days of IV fluids, heavy doses of antibiotics and other care. He seemed to be improving, but at the same time, at 32 years old, I knew his time was short. I had even asked Tracie, the woman who owned the barn, if he could be buried there on the property, because I just couldn’t accept the alternative that exists for horses. On March 25, Biz went outside on a sunny, spring day, enjoyed the day in his paddock, then died at about 3:20 pm that afternoon. He lay down in his stall after being brought in, and was suddenly gone. Even though he was 32, and I’d been expecting this day for years, it still tore me up. After all, he’d been in my life for over 30 years. Longer than most of my friends; far longer than any romantic relationship.
I got a bit lost after that. Locked down, working from home, drowning in COVID related mitigation planning, and lonely. So when my boyfriend and I got into a fight in early April because he hadn’t followed through on things he said he would do, I was sad and frustrated and wanted a few days to think about things. Instead of a few days, he left for good. Not without taking the opportunity to lecture me on every single thing he thought was wrong with me though. Because that’s how you show someone how much you love them. And you do all this on Easter – for good measure. Talk about being kicked while you are already down. April truly is the cruelest month…
I wish I could say May was an improvement. I was starting to see the light again, starting to feel like myself again. The morning of May 15, I woke up thinking I hadn’t talked to my friend Roger in a while and I needed to text him. COVID had put our beer nights on hiatus for a few months, and I was missing them. I put it off, because I got busy with work, and then in the early afternoon, I got a call from one of my former employees. She was calling to tell me that Roger had died that morning in a fall. He was too young and too special to be gone so soon. I sobbed… If you are thinking about contacting someone you care about, just do it now. Don’t wait – not even a couple of hours…
So three major losses in less than two months. I really struggled this spring. I spent a lot of evenings walking, alone, feeling numb.
Summer was a bit better, because I had the chance to hike and get outdoors, things I need so much in my life. Plus the lockdown had eased somewhat so I could go out to dinner and happy hour with friends outside. But I still felt lost. So I decided to give therapy a try. I think she was honestly surprised when I tallied up all the losses I’ve experienced over the last few years. My dad, my horse, two close friends, the dream of having children. And those are only the biggest ones. I’m not very good at talking about the things that really bother me. So it was a challenge to have to open up and get real about things. That has been hard. And how do you assess whether or not it’s helping?
I’ve cried more in the last two years than I probably have in the last 20 years. Honestly I’m not a big crier, but the tears have fallen, long and hard.
I think my year might have been easier had I been able to travel more. Travel has been cathartic and healing for me. To stand in front of the glacial lake, to see the ancient ruins, to read the interpretive signs and think about what happened at this spot so many years ago. I put the car bed back in my Honda this fall, but my September camping trip coincided with thick, choking smoke from horrible wildfires. Thanks again 2020.
I did have some amazing fall hikes and felt real connections with new friends and old. That was a silver lining. I have tried to appreciate the blessings that I do have. Other than the isolation and loneliness that COVID has brought so many, I have not been affected in any real way. My family and friends have not gotten seriously ill and my job is secure.
I’m slowly feeling like I’m regaining my footing. It hasn’t been fast or easy, but I’m getting there. I certainly won’t miss 2020, but I have things to look forward to, and I’m feeling hopeful. My wish is that all of you find joy and happiness in the New Year and that 2021 gives us a bit more to be thankful for.