March 13th is the official “Coronaversary” for us because it’s the day that things started to shift in our family’s life. As that date approaches, I’ve been reflecting on all that this year has held for us and I wanted to document my thoughts as so many are doing. I think reflection is important especially as milestones are reached.

On the evening of March 13, 2020 we were at Milton Hershey School, serving what would become our last weekend of houseparenting (but we didn’t know it). That evening, an email went out to the sponsors (families) of the children stating that the school would be closing down for two weeks, leading into spring break, and that they could come pick up their children if they so desired. If not, the children would be kept safe on campus.

As we tried to go to sleep that night, I asked Brennan if he thought he should take two weeks off of work to help “flatten the curve” and to keep our family safe. We weren’t sure what to do. I remember reading a post from someone on social media about flattening the curve and it made so much sense to me and we wanted to do our part to support the health care workers and get rid of the virus.

The week prior to this was filled with a growing sense of anxiousness from the students (I had been working nearly every afternoon/evening at MHS) as they watched the news and became very aware of the virus. It was the first time in eight years that I felt like I didn’t have any words of wisdom or encouraging words to provide because, like them, it was/is my first global pandemic.

Leading up to this day I also had a growing sense of overwhelm and a knowledge of having too much on my plate. I was stressed and felt like I was failing in so many aspects of my life, and I didn’t know what I could let go.

I wrote this on March 14th as we could see things starting to shut down. And then, on March 16th, everything was taken off of my plate at once.

That morning, Brennan called me from work and said they would be shutting down for one month. I remember an immediate sense of relief (that he’d be home and safe, and that I would have help with the boys) and dread (an entire month without income). We immediately filed for his unemployment and prepared for what we thought would be a month off.

That month became ninety-four days.

On his first day of furlough we ventured out for supplies and I distinctly remember going to Costco. They had pallets stacked to limit the flow of traffic and it was eerie. The Kirkland brand of toilet paper was sold out but they had Charmin; I opted to not get more toilet paper because Charmin was more expensive. I will never make that mistake again 😉 We had no idea that it would be impossible to find when we really needed it a month later. We also had no idea that our life was about to change so drastically.

Brennan’s furlough is a treasured memory and I am forever grateful for those ninety-four days we had at home as a family. I wish the boys were older so they would remember that, but at the same time I’m so grateful that they won’t remember this at all. They don’t know that everything has temporarily changed or that they have “missed out” on things this year. They have no idea, and that is a blessing. However, I do hope that our changed hearts and minds positively impact them as we parent them for years to come.

On March 13, 2020, I never expected that the world was about to dramatically change as it did. I never expected to enjoy being forced to be at home and to slow down. I never expected to lose friends because I believe in science/the scientific method and don’t believe conspiracy theories. I never expected to come out of this with a clearer sense of what matters and of the brevity of life.

Of course we made sacrifices and not everything was perfect. I haven’t seen my grandparents in over a year. I gained back all of the weight I had worked so hard to lose in 2019. But, overall, 2020 for me isn’t negative at all.

I also never expected to become known for my 2020 meme collection, but the memes were a history project for me. Never before have I seen such an accurate portrayal of life events (and feelings about those events) displayed so simply and often humorously. That album is fascinating to me for those reasons – just about everything that went wrong in 2020 can be found there. This link should take you to that album. Please let me know if it doesn’t. The disclaimer is that not all of those reflect my beliefs – good historians don’t discriminate.

Overall, March 2020 – March 2021 brought us peace. A simplified life. A renewed vision for what we want our family to be. A greater appreciation for health and travel. An increased appreciation for decision-makers placed in impossible situations (like governors, superintendents, etc.). A newfound respect for epidemiologists and for science. It’s been a really good year in terms of our personal growth and revised priorities.

Here are some other posts I wrote about life in quarantine.

The events of the year and the way in which people (and many in the Church) responded also caused me to rethink almost everything I’ve ever believed (theology aside). This deserves its own post, but I will say that I’m still rethinking and I am not the person I was on March 12, 2020 – and that’s a great thing. I’m more objective than ever about almost everything politically and I think it’s the healthiest I’ve ever been in those regards. I’ve learned so much and I am loving it.

In closing, some final thoughts. There are so many things that I hope never go back to “normal” (like licking our fingers to separate papers, blowing out candles on birthday cakes, etc.), including these:

  • May we never take for granted being able to buy things like flour, yeast, toilet paper, and even tortillas.
  • May we never lose the sense of excitement we will soon have when we can gather again safely and go on adventures.
  • May we always value those whose work often goes unnoticed or unappreciated, because this pandemic has proved that they are, indeed, essential.
  • May we always put in the effort needed to maintain relationships like we did this year.

What would you add to this list?

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