When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I took it very seriously and followed all the rules. I never would have guessed that it would still be such a strong topic of conversation and concern one year later! Hell, this virus has been around so long they had time for a name change: Coronavirus to COVID-19. I think I prefer “Coronavirus” because at least there is some reference to beer!

Here we are one year later and almost nothing has changed that drastically. Yes we now have a vaccine, but we still are not hugging our friends and family, having Sunday dinner with grandparents, and seeing someone smile live rather than assuming they are smiling through a mask. There are people everywhere making incredible sacrifices and forced to change the game to protect the ones they love.

My daughter lost half of her senior year of high school in 2020, and is now forced to face her freshman year of college via Zoom in a small dorm room. I may be older, but that’s not what I remember doing when I was a college freshman!

I was talking to my dad last week and he was baffled by the prospect of my daughter actually having fun at college this year. “How is she making friends on a computer screen?” “Why is she living on campus when there are so few people there?” “No sports?” “How can she tolerate wearing a mask and social distancing all the time – not to mention getting tested every week?”

The answer to all of that is that these kids have had to make the necessary adjustments or just stay at home isolated. This is the generation that will look back when they are adults and never forget what they lost and will remember how they learned to appreciate what they had. They will recognize their strength in making adjustments to keep moving forward and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I personally look at COVID one year later in many different ways. I started off sharing the pain my daughter felt losing so many milestones as she ended high school and went on to college. Then I realized I had extra personal time with her because of the inability to attend college on campus. That period of time was a gift to both of us and enabled me to become a stronger mom as I sent her off to college months later. (She, however, might disagree about it being a “gift” and think more about it like a prison sentence with Mom.) No matter what the thought on that subject, we spent many nights watching movies, talking, staying up late, and being alone together.

The true realization about COVID one year later is the amount of loss to so many. It’s not just the real loss of a loved one to the disease, it’s also the loss of time spent with your family and friends. I think it’s easy to take for granted that you will just see them, hug them, meet them for dinner, or go to the movies. Once that was truly taken from us we became a society that was almost dysfunctional in our everyday wants and needs. We were also frustrated with the rules and discomforts that come with a pandemic. One year later it is hard to be patient and kind when we have been isolated and locked away without the key.

Have faith. We are seemingly coming to the end of a long road with endless curves and false hopes.

So one year later, take the time to thank our essential workers that have given their time and dedication to helping us end this pandemic as soon as possible. They have been fighting a war on the frontlines and they are owed our gratitude. There will come a day when we can actually see them in person and shake their hands.

I personally am ready to see my family who I have been apart from for almost two years. The vaccine is getting me closer to seeing my family and appreciating my mom still telling me what to do – in person.

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