A Year Has Passed. Looking Back at Covid—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

On this day, March 12, last year—the infamous 2020—I left my house to attend an 8am networking meeting. 

Little did I know. 

Facing North from 1 World Trade Center. 

Talk of “the virus” was swirling in the air—we live just outside New York City; we couldn’t have not known. My husband, then based on the 79th floor of 1 World Trade Center, had arrived home early on the Tuesday afternoon. Two people in that spire of a building had come down with Covid-19; it would close for cleaning. “Probably a week or so, and we should be back.”

I set off for the event anyway, albeit with a slight uneasiness. Was I taking a foolish risk? Brushing aside my doubts, I climbed into my car, asking myself how bad could this really be? We lived through the SARS scare of 2003, the Avian Flu drama of 2006, and not forgetting the Swine Flu saga of 2009/2010. In fact, we flew to the Yucatan Peninsula on vacation in Feb of 2010 and had a wonderful time.

Feeling sure this was nothing more than a media-driven scare. I hurried in to meet up with my networking friends. 

How I now wish that my guardian angel had grabbed me by the shoulders and yelled in my ear: Savor all of it. Drink in every hug, every face-to-face conversation, every smile, every touch of a hand on a shoulder. Appreciate the casual banter with the waiter, relish the bright laugh of a friend seated inches away, revel in the companionship. 

Pay attention, pay close attention; it will be more than a year before you do any of this again. 

The meeting went ahead, but when we left to go our separate ways, there was a tangible air of concern; would it all be over by next month’s meeting…or the next…or the one after that? Maybe by Summer?

The drive home allowed me time to think. By the time I walked back in, I had decided that home I would stay until this all blew over. Maybe a couple of weeks at home wouldn’t be too bad.

Well, we all know how that worked out!

When I look back, my overwhelming feeling is one of disbelief (a whole year has passed!) deeply unscored by sadness for the tragic loss of life and the suffering. It is nigh impossible to think about all those who had loved ones ripped from their lives. 

I also think about those people who, although healthy, will suffer setbacks for years to come. The children, teens, and young adults who missed out on so many milestone experiences, not to mention the gaps they will suffer in their education. The small business owner who watched as decades of blood, sweat, and tears was wiped out within months. 

Times Square, New York City, April 2020.

The casual cruelty of the virus is breathtaking.

But, we cannot succumb to the brutality of it all; we need to find the lessons—and I know many valuable lessons were learned in the past twelve months. We learned how resilient and adaptable we truly are. More importantly, we found out just how much we crave human contact and how vital it is to connect with others. Not only the hours-long conversations with family and friends but also the casual chat, the passing exchange with a barista or a neighbor. I think I miss that more! We have found virtual ways to connect with loved ones and colleagues, but you cannot take the 2-minute chinwag with the mailman and move that to Zoom. 

Here in the north-east USA, hope is in the air. Vaccines are rolling out, and Spring is peeping around the melting snow piles, ready to take her place on center stage. As we run toward this bright new season filled with potential, I hope we keep up some of the learned behaviors.

Let’s keep washing our hands! Let’s keep checking in on neighbors. Let’s keep donating to the food banks. Let’s keep tipping way more than we need to. 

And, let’s never, ever forget how important are the teachers, the nurses, the shelf-packers, the bus drivers, and all those unsung heroes who, when it mattered most, gave us their best.

Sunrise over Lower Manhattan.

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