The day after the new year began we drove out to Buffalo River State Park, MN to go for a trail run as a family. Hoar frost had settled on the frozen blades of grass and naked tree branches. It was a breath-taking morning for a brand new year. A truly spectacular day.
So far, the new year has been gentle. I feel like I’m reaching into it slowly, cautiously–just in case it bites my hand like 2020 did. After all, we were only eight days into last year’s new year when Iran and the US were flirting with the idea of WW3.
I’m careful with this new introduction. I’ve learned not to be too confident too early.
2020 changed me, and it’s hard not to carry that year with me into the next. It’s hard to believe that in 2 1/2 months we will have been with this pandemic for an entire year. In 3 1/2 months it will be the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing. 2020 has put me in a holding pattern of grief and loss, and I’m still not quite sure how I’m dealing with that. I’m still aching to be with my sister and mom so we can cry together and really start healing over the loss of my dad. I’m not sure when we’ll finally be able to do that in person. I still feel the loss over the inability to have a “proper” funeral, surrounded by my family and my dad’s friends, and having a chance to socialize over a dinner and really celebrate my dad’s life.
COVID-19 was 4 weeks old in the United States when my dad passed away. I got on that plane to fly to Colorado to be with my mom and I didn’t know if I would become infected with COVID on that flight. COVID was so new and there was so much we didn’t know, part of me worried that I could die if that happened–or that my mom could die if I brought it to her. With states rapidly calling quarantine on each other, I didn’t know when I’d be able to see Steve and the kids again when I got on that plane.
Everything worked out the best it could under those circumstances, but it’s left a huge mark on me. Even though my dad didn’t die of COVID, the whole experience made it feel like he had.
But 2020 moved on, we learned more about COVID. We learned how to live with it better (disinfecting cereal boxes from the grocery store was no longer a thing). We discovered the power of masks, became take-out experts, macgyvered high school graduations, classrooms, schedules, XC practices and meets, eased up restrictions, saw numbers spike, and adjusted restrictions again. We zoomed Thanksgivings and Christmases and have become really good experts at thinking outside the box to be with each other. We finished 2020 and moved into 2021 with the hope of vaccines and health and a “normal” future while bringing our “new normal” with us.
I know this reflection sounds heavy–it is heavy–but I bring it into 2021 because I’ve grown and changed so much because of that year.
Have I made hopes and dreams for 2021 like I’ve done in years past? Of course! But those hopes are prudent. Measured. Big things are going to happen for the Beck family in 2021, they just might not happen in the ways we’ve always imagined them. In fact, I’ve lived long enough that I can almost guarantee that would be the case, even if we weren’t living in a pandemic.
J will graduate from high school this year and start the next phase of his life in a new way and space than he has in the last 13 years of his life. W will enter her last year of high school and start looking at universities. I might even get to be with my sister and mom–in person–this year. Big things are happening. New things. Scary things. Wonderful things.
The big things, new things, scary things sounds a lot like 2020 in some ways, at least at first glance. But I know our world will be in a different place by the time we reach the end of this new year. Nothing stays in the same way forever. Each new day in 2020 was different from the day that came before it. We kept learning, growing, moving forward in 2020. We’ll do the same in 2021.
So welcome, New Year. It’s nice to meet you. I’m sure we’ll get better acquainted with each other soon enough.
As for now, thank you for the beautiful day. It was an absolute treat.