Friday March 13, 2020.
It was the day that marked the end of an unusual week.
My 9-year old had been embattled by a pesky cough, coupled with a fever and a runny nose. She had not been her usual jovial self so I took precautions, including paying a visit to her pediatrician. Thankfully, all indications were that she was on the mend.
But the world was on target to be woefully struck by what would be called an unprecedented pandemic; one that would claim millions of lives and disrupt millions more, bringing with it unemployment, hunger, poverty, immense grief, hopelessness and inevitable death.
Almost every news media outlet ran the story; the novel Corona Virus or Covid-19, first discovered in Wuhan China, was spreading faster than wildfire across Asia and Europe and had made its way to the US.
At first, it seemed somewhat baffling as to exactly how the virus was spreading, but at that point, medical experts themselves weren’t sure either. I remember planting myself in front of the television, watching breaking news from one channel to the next and it seemed like breaking news broke all day.
On Monday, March 16, 2020, we began remote work and learning, awaiting instructions as to when it would be safe to return to school and the office. I envisioned how it would be. I would spend time following up on work issues and take occasional breaks to ensure school work was being done. I would share some productive and positive words of advice via my social media platforms and work purposefully with students and non-student nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis who somehow found themselves challenged by Covid-19 related issues. Instead, I was crippled with great trepidation and an unexplainable anxiety. I felt as though my entire being was plunging into the abyss of what could well have been depression. I couldn’t think clearly! Was I getting Covid-19 too?
As the virus continued to spread, it had become clear that this was not the year quite like we anticipated it to be; this was not the year we waited so patiently for. By the end of June, dozens of people I knew fell victim to Covid-19 as the number of deaths worldwide ballooned. This was the year to be selfless! Instead, too many people are in need and do not have it to give!
This was the year to appreciate being employed!
Instead, scores of people across the globe have watched as their jobs have merely slipped away. This was the year to embrace those we love! Instead, the world has taken a hit and the death toll continues to rise as a result of Covid-19, while families painfully mourn the loss of their loved ones who they never got a chance to tell goodbye.
This was 2020! This was the year we NEVER envisioned; the year we NEVER waited for.
Remember how we excitedly made plans in 2019 for our 20/20 vision boards?
Remember our “nothing can stop us now” outlook on life?
One outbreak slowed us all down; silenced us, brought us to our knees, channeled our energies to more purposeful pursuits, shed light on our good fortunes, and the reality and complexity of our social, political and economic differences. In an odd twist of fate, the pandemic forced mankind to rely on each other; to respect each other; to appreciate the simpler things in life that tend to get lost in the noise of nothingness!
As the world inoculation exercise continues, we protect ourselves and each other behind our masks, looking into each other’s eyes, where for many, sadness still looms. May we stop sometimes and find empathy in our own hearts for one another.
May we assume that everyone we meet, whose story we may not know, pains from some kind of loss and that we ought not lash out when we encounter others.
Behind the masks we now wear are ordinary people with inspiring stories; of hope and unimaginable possibilities.
Although the world economy has spiraled downward and many businesses have closed down, many have found new opportunities and new businesses are burgeoning across the world. Although norms have been replaced by difficult and unwelcome situations, our ingenuity and resilience as a people have prevailed. As we come to the end of this year we call 2020, we will never forget the 9 months of darkness that made the year’s journey awash with fear, anger, hate, confusion and death. As we look forward with great hope for 2021 and beyond, a sober reflection from Nelson Mandela-one of the world’s most loved and revered leaders- is timely: “Our human compassion binds us one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”
An ocean of great hope lies ahead. It’s not always as clear as we envision it to be but we will no longer wait for a year of 20/20 vision that may never come. Instead, may we ply through the fog of life and let that spark of hope illuminate our way into the New Year and beyond!
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