Today is one year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO It’s a bit hard to put any words on e-paper today. Many of my public health/epid friends are feeling the same way. It’s been one year of dramatic shifting of the world. Yes, the physical world shifted and many people realized we are linked more to the rest of the world than we thought. 2.5 million people died of COVID-19 in 12 months. Just 12 months. In the US, over 520,000 have died. At least 117 million have been sickened in the world, many of which have long-COVID.
The pandemic has also cost jobs, disrupted industries, and put everyone on hold for what we hoped would only be a few weeks (and, frankly could have only been a few weeks). It’s unfortunate that business and health were made into dichotomous choices, when really they bolster and protect the other.
Then, the pandemic has hidden or unseen costs. This is where many of you are at. Costs of relationships and communities. Deep and dividing views on masks and rights that have surprised a lot of us. Then mix in politics, nationalism, and racism of 2020 and you’ve got one big mess. I’ve written on that more here – https://tinyurl.com/y6y3oxr7 The world feels loud right now, doesn’t it. For many of you, this cost will take some time to sift through.
So, today if you are feeling angst or sadness about what has happened over the past 12 months for any reason, I think there are a lot of people there with you. For those of you who have been through unimaginable loss of a family member of a friend from COVID, we in the FNE community mourn with you. For others who are feeling angst over the other losses, reach out to someone today. It’s ok to simply sit with a trusted friend in the midst of the questions and angst.
Where am I one year later? I’m a mixture of sadness and hope. A bit battered and definitely stronger. I listen longer and speak up courageously more. We will all have to make a choice when things get back to “normal” to choose who we will be. Noone will be the same and I think we will experience frustration if we try to fit 2021-forward into what we knew pre-pandemic. For me, I want a new normal. I remember my mom telling me after I had my babies that there will be a new normal when our family expanded. And, that new normalcy was not only ok, it was good. She was right. It was new, but it was good with new life and love.
This new normal will be costly if it hasn’t been already. Speaking up and living into justice for all, love for neighbor, and putting action to convictions always comes at a cost. For me, those costs have been hard in 2020 – but, also come with a reward. Not a monetary award or plaque you can hang on your wall. A reward that frees us to live into being a “good human”, like my 9-year old says. =) A reward that pushes towards what we are FOR rather than what we are against. A reward that benefits all people rather than a privileged few. And, letting go of the “what used to be” is the only way forward to what can be. This will take hard conversations, decisions, and costs. But, my goodness it is worth it.
Today, one year after the world was turned upside down, be encouraged web-peeps. I don’t want to be the same as I was pre-pandemic and I bet many of you don’t either. And, maybe this can help you have the courage to choose to lean into the new normal.
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
Picture: This is a picture one of my best friends painted for us a few years ago titled ‘Co-Creating’. I LOVE how it captures the journey we are on, plus the hope we walk in.