The holidays felt so very different this year. Not like the holidays at all.
Like so many, I lost a loved one in 2020. My father. And I nearly lost an aunt, an aunt who is still not out of the woods. And while neither were victims of Covid19, we’re still theoretically victims: my dad’s siblings couldn’t come to his funeral, my aunt’s wife and family are isolated from her, and I didn’t see my daughters at Christmas.
Nor did I see my husband on New Year’s Eve — or for the dawn of this rainy new year. He’s quarantined in the basement and has been for a week now. No kiss for me from him on New Year’s Eve — for the first time since the calendar turned from 07 to 08.
Christmas just didn’t feel like Christmas — even with the Christmas star. Even with the conjoined energy of shimmering planets sending out hope for the first time in 800 years. And boy, this year has felt like eight hundred. And we desperately need to see — and feel — more beacons of light in this darkness.
And we had one — one we were going to not just see on the horizon, but actually be a part of. Our high school football team — in this most-hazardous and unprecedented of years, achieved the near-impossible: they made it to the state championship.
My husband coaches on this team. The season was longer, more exhaustive (and exhausting), and anxiety-riddled than any other. And our team made it all the way to the pinnacle. The coaches, players and families dedicated more time and energy, and made more sacrifices this year than in any other. But while the team made it to the ship, we didn’t.
We were separated from that, too. By Covid19. So my husband and I watched on television, separated from each other and from the rest of our team.
And to add insult to injury, the other team won. Big time.
And now its New Year’s Day. 2021. And I saw a meme about how when you say it out loud, it’s “2020 won.”
And that’s pretty much how I feel.
Defeated and depressed and about as far from who I am as I’ve ever been.
Isolated. From my loved ones and myself.
Divided by walls. Walls I’ve put up to insulate my heart against more hurt. And walls I’m relying on to insulate my body from a virus. I feel like I’m living in a steel bunker and trying to ride out the storm. Alone.
Well, not quite alone. I have twin six-year-old boys with me. Two six-year-old, stir-crazy boys doing their best to stir their mama up. To push my buttons and release a raging inferno of wrath. And the one thing that’s saving them is I don’t have much spark left.
Rachel Platt may sing it only takes one match, but my match is nearly snuffed out. It’s barely flickering. It’s spitting and hissing under the weight of all the darkness. Darkness that descended in March, but got really, really oppressive on November 17th and hasn’t let up yet.
And in just three days time, I have to emerge from this bunker and back into the perils of my parallel universe… the one with more people surrounding me, but where I feel equally alone. And much more vulnerable.
Next week, I will go back into a classroom, where I will hunker down with over 160 rotating currents of students. Eight times a day, students will flow in and out of the halls and classrooms, bringing and leaving tide pools of contagion that teachers hopefully can contain and curtail with Clorox wipes and seating charts.
But the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks made it abundantly clear that those weapons were not nearly enough.
And right now, I don’t know that I am enough — that I have enough. Enough of what it takes to face more obstacles, difficulties, and darkness.
2020 won. I hope 2021 is a bit kinder and gentler, and I pray it will give me some time to get up, dust off, and find myself again.