As we say goodbye to 2020 tonight at midnight, I find myself reflecting back on the year that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. To say that 2020 was memorable is perhaps the biggest understatement of my life. A worldwide pandemic, historic civil rights movements, a presidential campaign that had everyone on edge, once in a century wildfires engulfing much of the West Coast and everything else that occurred this year, 2020 was the year that changed our lives forever.
I found myself being both incredibly resilient and incredibly fragile this year, balancing on the tightrope of holding it together and loosing my balance. This year, I found myself engulfed in grief from my own personal losses but also in the throws of empathy for all those out there losing loved ones to COVID or civil injustice or anything else. I found myself entrenched in moments of extreme depression, tears streaming down my face, not sure which way was up. I found out a lot about people in my life, both in the best ways and in the worst. We saw the best and worst of humanity this year, all wrapped into who really cared about other humans, and those who didn’t. We gave up a lot this year, we saw changes happen rapidly and I don’t think we’ll ever quite be the same after 2020. I know that I won’t be.
2020 changed me forever. It changed my thought process, it changed my habits, it changed the way I look at the world and the people around me. I am ready to say goodbye to 2020 but I think this year will stick with us for the rest of our lives.
This year we covered our faces to keep each other safe. This year we voted for new leadership that will restore peace and civility in the United States. This year we marched crying “Black Lives Matter” and we donated what we had to help those that lost homes in historic wildfires that ravaged the West Coast. We lived under smoke filled skies for weeks, cried tears of joy as a new American president won an election, and had everything delivered to our doors.
I know that 2020 changed my life enormously and changed how I live. There are some things that I started doing that I know will continue on for many years ahead like getting groceries delivered to my house, buying local as much as I can, and being grateful for the things that I often took for granted before lockdowns, like a garden or the ability to travel. Other things were more life-changing and taught me huge life lessons that will remain with me forever. Things like those moments early in the pandemic watching the horrific spread of COVID in Italy and New York. Things like the first time leaving the house in a mask and gloves, not really knowing what was ahead. Things like seriously wondering if we’d all make it out of this. Things like falling into a deep depression like I never had before. Things like that first time out on the open road driving to California after months at home. Things like watching people in the streets pleading for justice and equality. Things like federal officers kidnapping people off the streets of my home city in Portland. Things like orange smokey skies for weeks that engulfed us all. Things like family and friends having to evacuate their homes, during a pandemic, because the fire was so close. Things like election results that lasted for what seemed like weeks. Things like finally popping champagne on that Saturday morning when Biden was projected as the winner. Things like making it to December and taking a big deep breath knowing the year was coming to a close but also watching my husband Nick go through COVID. And while his case was mild to most, I wouldn’t wish this virus on anyone.
I’ll never forget 2020 and I know it will be part of me for years to come. We won’t forget all the faces in masks or the cries for help from hospitals or watching our loved ones get sick. We won’t forget the smoke filled skies or the millions of people that came together to march for equality. We won’t forget the frontline workers and the delivery people and the people that went to work even when they knew they might be exposed to COVID. We won’t forget the feeling of not knowing what was ahead, the feeling of travel taken off the table for who knew how long, the feeling that you might be infecting someone else and might not even know it. We won’t forget the mark this year made, it’s imprinted on us for a long time to come. 2020 changed us all, even if we might not know it just quite yet.