It has been a year since had any type of "normal." On March 13, 2020 we pre-emptively kept our kids home from school. We saw the writing on the wall that schools would likely be closing due to COVID-19, and we were right. Later that same day, our governor announced the closure of schools, limits on capacity in businesses, and other measures to curb the spread. The day before, we had gone shopping, thinking that we might be in "lockdown" for several weeks.
How wrong we were.
Instead, we are now at the 365-day mark. My older kids did not see the inside of their classrooms at school for 362 of those days. I haven't seen any of my family in person except my mom, who stayed with us for a few weeks and left this past Wednesday. I haven't hugged any of my friends, seeing them only outside, spaced apart. Our food is delivered, our memberships to museums have lapsed, we attend any gatherings via Zoom.
I know from experience that grief anniversaries are hard, and the one-year mark has felt like a nationwide mourning. I look at my "On This Day" memories and the photos from late February and early March 2020 were hard. Just a few days before March 13th, I had attended an author event with some friends. An auditorium filled with people. Ger took the two older kids to spend an overnight in a hotel on February 29th and then to an arcade, calling it a "leap year celebration." I went to Target with Autumn.
I have thought a lot about what we have sacrificed in the past year by following every single recommendation and public health guideline. Our mental health has certainly suffered. And while I keep trying to tell myself that kids are resilient, they have now spent a good chunk of their lives within the walls of this house. Quentin is coming up on his 9th birthday - his second pandemic birthday. 11% of his life so far has been affected by this pandemic.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel (finally). My fully vaccinated mom was able to visit. Ger is vaccinated. I have hope that I'll have my vaccine soon. My older kids are back at school and Autumn will begin preschool in a few weeks. Amidst all of this, Ger and I have both started new jobs and we've managed to come through without killing each other (though there were times when it was questionable).
Even within the next few days, we are shedding the really dark, hard parts of winter. We spring forward an hour this weekend and are going to unearth our outdoor furniture that has been in storage. My dad arrives for an extended visit tomorrow. Next week marks the second week back in the classroom at school.
I think, like the grief I have experienced before, there will be lingering reminders. Some things will be permanently altered. The way that we live and work may never completely go back to "before." On some days, I miss that life. Yet I also know that I can never get it back. It will forever be the line of Before and After.