2020: The year of ‘and then’

The author on the last day of 2020 in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah, Dec. 31, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

FEATURE — We all know what happened. We waltzed naively into 2020 shedding the weight of 2019 and proclaiming that this year, the year of perfect sight, would be ours…

And then Australia started burning and Kobe Bryant died.

I had taken my son to snowboarding lessons in Brian Head the day the latter happened. One minute I was watching him successfully navigate an obstacle and stop on the edge of his board and the next minute the mountain was buzzing – as if we all heard the news as a collective.

A helicopter crash. A basketball great and his daughter. Gone.

Tragic. Even if you weren’t a fan of the sport.

Then there were whisperings. A new virus. Or was it a disease? Hundreds sick and quarantined on a cruise ship. Was the source really a bat?

Man, that seems like so long ago.

And then – gut punch – a global pandemic. Entire countries locked down. Schools went digital. Economies flailed.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I wrote an article in which I interviewed a licensed counselor on how the crisis would affect individuals, children, families and couples.

The outlook was grim for nearly every member of the population.

People would struggle with anxiety and depression at never before seen levels. Children would struggle to learn in a digital environment that only favored a few. Marriages would struggle and ultimately fail.

Check. Check. Check.

As society is wont to do at the end of a year, we look back on the deaths of celebrities and impactful people.

Musical legends like John Prine and Eddie Van Halen. Movie and television stars like Sean Connery, Alex Trebek and Chadwick Boseman. Boy did that latter one hurt; he was only one year older than me. Social justice warriors like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Lewis also gone. The world is not better for having lost them.

One of the losses that hit me hardest was that of former Mythbuster and geek extraordinaire, Grant Imahara who taught me and my kids that it is cool – really, really cool – to be smart.

And maybe it sounds silly, but the senseless death of University of Utah football’s freshman running back Ty Jordan on Christmas day …

Well, that one broke me. Who am I, sir? A Utah man am I.

And then there are the nearly 350,000 people who lost their lives to COVID-19 in the United States alone. Most of them we will never know. Most of their stories will never be told but by a number ticker on CNN. But to somebody, they were just as important as any celebrity or scientist, athlete or politician.

Man, what a year.

And then there were the rifts. Divisions over masks, politics, race and conspiracy theories. Talk – actual talk – of civil war and secession. Why do we fight? And who wins when we do?

I think we all know the answer to the last one.

And then …

And then there were moments of reinvention.

We learned new ways to work and new ways to stay connected to the people we love. We learned to bake and to teach online. We learned what real heroes look like. We learned to find joy in simplicity. And even while the world has been reeling, we have learned to reach for the stars.

And then we made it to the end.

Will 2021 be any better? Maybe. But we can’t walk naively into it. We have to do it with intention, with courage and with love.

Happy New Year!

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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