I’ve already written six posts about life during the COVID pandemic, and I am certainly hoping that this is, if not the last one, one of the last ones. The vaccinations have started, and some of my doctor and health care worker friends and family have already had their first inoculation. My mother, as a resident of a long-term care facility, should be getting her first shot in the next couple of weeks. I don’t expect that I will get mine until early March at best, but I already feel some lightness in the air that surrounds me. I can foresee the day when we can once again hug our children and other loved ones without fear of being infected or infecting them.
In the end, I’ve realized that that is what I want more than anything else. Sure, I miss restaurants and movies and theater and concerts. I miss eating in the homes of my friends and having them come to mine. I miss traveling to other parts of the country and the world. But I haven’t missed any of that nearly as much as I miss the feel of my daughters’ hugs or of my arms around my grandsons, kissing their sweet little heads. I want to do that without fear and with a full heart. I long for that more than anything else. And if I continue to be lucky and do all I can to be safe, maybe by the late spring that will be possible. Maybe.
So much is still unknown. But 2021 has to be better, doesn’t it?
Sadly, that’s what I wrote a year ago on this blog. 2019 was not an easy year. My father died in February, and by November we had to move my mother to a memory care facility. I was filled with hope for 2020, but we were not even three months into the year when everything crashed around us.
But we were among the lucky ones—so far. We didn’t get sick, my mother didn’t get sick, my kids didn’t get sick, and although some other family members had COVID, no one got seriously ill. My friends are also all fine. We truly have nothing to complain about and lots to be grateful for.
But my heart breaks for those who died or whose loved ones died. I will never forgive Trump for failing to be a leader. Instead of telling us early on that we need to wear masks and accept restrictions that could save lives, he made the decision to make wearing a mask a sign of weakness and the failure to wear a mask a litmus test for loyalty to him and his campaign for re-election. How many lives might have been spared if only we’d had a leader who believed in science and public health and moral values instead of money and greed and self-aggrandizement? We will never know.
But one of the first changes in 2021 will be a change in the White House (despite Trump’s deluded and corrupt attempts to claim he won the election). I don’t expect miracles from Joe Biden. But I expect decency and empathy and a willingness to follow the advice of scientists to get us back on our feet in this country. For that reason alone, 2021 has to be better than 2020.
There will continue to be more deaths and illness from COVID for months and months. I know that. There will continue to be people who spread hate and ignorance and fear. I know that. We won’t make as much progress as we need to on fighting climate change or securing universal and affordable health care or adequate protection from gun violence or ending systemic racism. I know that. Our political system will not be cured when Trump departs, nor will all our other societal problems.
But I do have hope for 2021. I have to. We all have to. Without hope we have no dreams for a better future. Without hope we resign ourselves to the worst version of human nature. Without hope we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.
So I am starting 2021 with hope. Hope for kindness and wisdom in our leaders and among all of us. Hope for a return to trust in science and facts and the electoral system. Hope for progress on fighting racism, climate change, poverty, and gun violence. Hope for the end of COVID-19. So much to hope for, all of which will take effort and energy and commitment not only among our political leaders but among each and every one of us who has dreams of a better year, a better country, a better future.
And I hope that a year from now I will feel that this hopefulness was justified.