A Year of Pandemic

This week will mark a year since everything changed. 

A year ago this week, my calendar was full of purple and red and yellow boxes marking appointments and reminders and events. We were juggling pickup and drop off of our then 1-year-old. 

I had been hearing chatter about a “coronavirus” at work, because my 7th grade social studies class always watched a daily 10-minute news recap. Since January, we had been getting updates on a mysterious virus in China. On January 23, 2020, this question was on our weekly quiz: What city of China is believed to be the origin of an outbreak of a mysterious coronavirus, which has spread to other nations around the world?

In early March, there were rumors of it coming to the US.

The day before our world shutdown, we were scheduled for our first ultrasound to see our baby. The (totally unmasked) appointment was around 11 a.m., so I had to take the whole day off of work as a sick day. After we saw our beautiful little baby bouncing around (just one baby, phew), Adam and I decided to make a date for the rest of the day. I had a sub at school and Declan was in daycare. We went to a local dine-in boutique movie theater and watched Knives Out. We shared a giant burger and truffle fries. 

The only movie we would see in theaters for the next year. The last restaurant meal we would eat for months. 

Later that day, it was announced that the following day would be a half day of school and we would start Spring Break early. 

I got to school that day, and the administration asked us to make packets of work for students to do during that one week off. Officials were saying we needed to “flatten the curve” in order to keep hospitals from becoming overcrowded too quickly. 

My students asked what would happen if I died. I told them that I hoped they would come to my funeral. I didn’t realize funerals would be canceled for months. 

I went by the school a couple months later to pick up my stuff from the classroom. The board still said March 13 and still had a graph I had made on the dry erase board showing what “flattening the curve” for two weeks would look like. 

I remember everyone being really scared. The stores (including online stores like Amazon) sold out of toilet paper, baby wipes, disinfecting wipes, and many groceries. The shelves where pasta, flour, and sugar belonged sat empty. People were hoarding and also spending a lot of time baking. 

Once schools closed, many events were getting canceled. Adam was supposed to travel to New York during spring break (while I stayed back with Declan). He had to cancel the work trip, because the church he was doing work with had canceled services. We didn’t know it would be over a year before we would fly again. 

As we come around to the same time of year, the rainy season when the flower buds are just appearing, there are weird time warp flashbacks. Our walks are starting to mirror how they looked at the beginning of all this. The same trees are starting to bloom.

We have a new baby who has never lived in a world without pandemic. 

During that first week of lockdown, Declan learned to count to five. Now he can read numbers and count to 20. Looking at pictures of him from those first few weeks puts into perspective just how much time has passed during this pandemic.  Over a third of Declan’s life has been this way. At under the age of three, he is used to masks. Kids at the park have run away from him when he gets close, yelling CORONAVIRUS! 

I’ve heard that generational lines will be marked by this. Those who were school-age kids when COVID-19 hit and those that were born, but too young to remember. My kids will likely never remember this strange, all-together year. 

In the weeks after the reality of the pandemic was settling in, there were memes and poems and posts dedicated to finding positivity in this time and looking for ways we can grow from it. I think we are all too weary for that now. We have been without each other for so long that looking for silver linings is exhausting. Like Erin Moon said: we have reached the point in pandemic when walks don’t help anymore. Events that were canceled last year are being canceled or modified for a second year in a row. Those realities hit hard. 

What has changed for you from March 2020 to March 2021? Do you remember the last day before the pandemic rocked your world? How are you feeling about the one year anniversary of the world shutting down?