My long-time readers will know that I chose a word or phrase each year quite carefully. I choose my hopes for the new year and some memorable phrase that guides me when times are tough and gives me a direction to walk along even when I don’t feel I have the strength. Grit and Grace, Defiant Joy, Adventure, Enough, Gumption, Wonder(full) have been chosen to represent the past several years. These words keep my mind focused and moving forward.
What is less well known, is that I spend just as much time reflecting on what has been as I do planning and wishing for what will be. I don’t often publish or advertise these words or reflections, but they are just as powerful in retrospect as in anticipation.
2020 deserves a reflective word.
It has been a doozy of a year for nearly everyone I know. The vast majority of people in my circle have had perils surrounding Covid-19 AND at least one other major life event. People have lost loved ones, birthed babies, bought houses, received poor prognoses, miscarried babies, lost jobs, lost businesses, and gotten married. It has been a year of disappointments, blocked goals, and struggles. Even the beautiful and lovely major life events that happened this year were stained by a pandemic. We couldn’t meet the new baby, or have a real shower, or attend the wedding. We cancelled our vacations and couldn’t get together for holidays or family reunions because of both self restrictions and state restrictions.
Our successes and joys seemed tempered by separation and our struggles seemed heightened by isolation and a lack of control.
2020 was relentless.
Relentless in its waves of destruction and despair. Relentless it its anxiety and stubborn lack of an end date. Relentless in its ability to wash away the sandcastles we’ve built of plans, predictions, and hopes. I often felt like I was drowning this year, somehow unable to keep up with all demanded of me and the challenges that often blindsided me. I bought a house, but also dealt with a litany of strange problems post-closing. I had help moving, and also fell down the stairs and broke my foot the day I moved into my home. I am now awaiting surgery to correct my foot which is now significantly out of alignment. The waves of doom kept washing in around me. 2020 felt like a shark circling its prey. I tried to tread water, but found it difficult to keep my head above the waves and do more than what was required of me so, so many days.
On what was perhaps the lowest day of the entire year, when I got the bad news from the physician about the fracture, damage, and need for surgery, I called my parents distraught. They drove down just to take me out to dinner and hug me. They said, “We don’t know what this means, or how it will affect many things in your life, but we will not let you drown.”
We will not let you drown.
I have clung to that sentence so much the past several months. The waves will come. The waters in life will overwhelm me sometimes, but there are people who will fight with me and for me. But I’m not alone and I don’t fight alone. Dear friends have texted me every day just to remind me that I’m not alone in the struggle or the madness.
2020 has been relentless, but I’ve survived storms before. I will not drown. I will swim toward the surface. I will fight for hope.
Was 2020 as relentless for you?