While 2020 has not been what any of us expected, I think it is important (more like critical) to put it into perspective. For example, while it has been an inconvenience… uncomfortable for our family it has in no way been horrible, traumatic or the other million adjectives people have been used to describe this year. For me to use these words to describe my life the last 365 days would be to cheapen the words and honestly would take away from those who have experienced actually trauma from this year. Our family was not without food… our family was not without shelter… our family for one day did not question if we were going to not have a job. Our family sheltered in place, wore masks, adjusted plans and while that is not what we planned it does not compare to so many whose life was literally in the balance of what was happening.
At the beginning of the pandemic I wrote a blog titled How my mom’s suicide prepared me with living with uncertainty. I continue to reflect on how my previous experiences in life have shaped the way in which I have faced 2020…. and if I am honest, I am thankful. I am thankful I could choose to focus on the wellbeing of all instead my selfish needs. I am glad I knew uncertainty was not the end of the world.
This last week we spent time with my dad and stepmom in Ruidoso, NM. We felt we could continue our safe practices in a house 9 hours away as easily in our home. My hope was Keaton would get to see more snow than a light dusting. What I did not expect was a connection to my childhood and memories of my mom when I was the same age Keaton is today.
When I was a kid we spent so much time in Ruidoso. If we weren’t there for Thanksgiving in a little cabine, our pop-up-trailer was on the river for a summer stay. So many of the happiest times of my childhood can be found in the small mountain town in New Mexico. As we went tubing, driving to White Sands, or watching a sunset over the majestic mountains, it took everything in me to not weep… my seven year old was getting to experience a similar experience to mine so many years ago.
When your mom dies when you are 19 to suicide, the memories of the past and dreams of the future seem to be stuck. You have no clue how you will move forward and how you can have a life without a person who has been central in your life. You also struggle to see how places that hold so many cherished memories could ever be visited as a place of peace instead of grief…. but somehow it happens and you find yourself over the edge of the mountains and watch the sky explode with so many colors. Your dad is driving the car in the same way he did over 35 years ago but this time you are accompanied by your stepmom, husband, and son… and you are thankful… you are thankful for the memories you had with your previous family… and you are just as thankful for the experiences with this new family which will turn to memories one day.
Yes tomorrow starts 2021, but I think we can benefit from taking a step back and realizing what really happened this last year. Was it uncomfortable or were our lives changed so much we don’t know what the future will hold? I think many of us are in the first group and pretend we are in the second group. By doing so we risk not having empathy for others. It is ok to be uncomfortable. It is ok to be pushed out of our comfort zone. It is ok to not like reality.
For me… I think one day in the future we will be driving and realize the beautiful moments that happened in 2020. As my seven year old said months ago… “one day we will pretend it is COVID so we can have more family time.” I choose to put our experience as a family in perspective… and it is that perspective that allows me to be grateful for 2020 instead of despise it. There are many who have a true reason to grieve this year, but I don’t. I am grateful.