Everyone knows what this past week has been for many of us. The anniversary of moments many of us would rather forget. I can still remember where I was a year ago at this time. It was March 13, 2020. My last day of in-person classes. It was my final semester at Bristol Community College, excited for my graduation ceremony just two months away. By this time, COVID (or coronavirus as everyone was saying) was all people talked about all day. There were already rumors that we would be online for the rest of the semester, but I pretended not to hear. By the time I got to my last class, all I wanted was to go home. I kept thinking everything would blow over, because I didn’t want to believe anything bad would happen. But if I had known that would be the last time I was ever on a college campus, I would have stayed longer…
Suddenly, the entire world changed before we could grasp what was going on. Businesses shut down, people moved back home, and suddenly people were afraid for their wellbeing and the wellbeing of their loved ones. I walked on eggshells every day my mom came home from work as a nurse, holding my breath waiting for her weekly COVID test results to come in. I worked at a grocery store as a cashier, experiencing stress and dread that I have never felt before. I would drive to work and want to turn around when I saw the line of people waiting outside to get in. Those shifts in the early days of the pandemic were still the worst shifts of my life. And they probably always will be. It’s not chaotic anymore, but I have learned to embrace the slow days at work.
For the longest time, it felt as though nothing would ever change. We spent our summer watching cases and death numbers go up and people in denial of everything. Because they were just ignorant, or because that’s the only way they cope with tragic things? It’s impossible to tell. For the first time in my life, it feels like we are fighting a war with something that cannot be seen. All we know is that if we come into contact with it, it can be damaging to us and even fatal to the loved ones around us…
A year has now passed since everything started to fall apart. It is only now that we are seeing the small light at the end of the tunnel. People are slowly, but surely, getting the vaccinations we have been praying for for an entire year. But even after the shots are in arms, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. We must write our stories, teach our children and learn from our mistakes. As much as we want to forget, we must not. Because if we forget, we will be bound to make the same mistakes and cause the same damage that we have seen. We need to learn. Grow. And heal a world that has taken a beating this past year.