One year ago today, the staff of The Mark Twain House & Museum met in our 176-seat auditorium to address the fact that this COVID-19 thing was suddenly more serious and more threatening than we had allowed ourselves, individually or collectively, personally or institutionally, to imagine. We gathered in the auditorium instead of our regular meeting space because we recognized the need to be seated far from one another. We talked about the fact that we’d be working from home for the next few weeks and ironed out as many details as we could, not knowing how very many details remained to be ironed out. I remember sitting in the very back row — extra anxious, as a recent breast-cancer survivor and long-term multiple sclerosis contender, about my potentially higher risk of succumbing to this mysterious virus — and shouting out that we should publicize our 3D virtual reality house tour as a means of remaining connected with the public during our brief hiatus.
365 days later, thousands of people have taken that virtual tour — and we’re still mostly working from home.
We’re far from unique; the same story has played out and continues to play out in workplaces of all kinds and sizes across the U.S. and all over the world. I invoke it here only as a milestone, a moment to consider what this chunk of our lives actually might mean.
I have blogged about my pandemic experience and will continue to do so, even as my second dose of vaccine looms close and lessens the urgency of my musings. I’m going to write about my stalwart neighbors and friends, my newfound hobbies, the lovely new relationships that have blossomed during the past twelve months, and the company of my aged dog and youthful cat that has sustained me throughout these crazy days.
For tonight, though, on this unlikely anniversary, I reflect on this: What if we had known, a year ago, what we were all in for? What if we had known just how much loss we would suffer, how many hours we’d spend alone, how many ways we’d struggle to stay cheerful, healthy, and productive, how much of our lives we’d miss? Would we have believed anyone who might have told us? Could we have begun to understand how much more fully we’d appreciate simple things we once took for granted, how precious the sensations of skin touching skin, arms holding loved ones, lips kissing lips would become?
The short answer is, no. None of us could ever have imagined any of this. And that’s probably a good thing. Hope, wherever we could find it and whatever form it took, kept us going. As did a certain kind of ignorance, not exactly blissful, but perhaps protective.
But I wonder. One day, when life returns to what we once knew as “normal,” will we remember what we’ve learned from this singular year we have shared? And will we adapt, evolve, change, and grow accordingly?
I’d like to think I will. What about you?
2 thoughts on “Clueless”
My takeaway from all you’ve experienced and written about is the grace and strength with which you’ve responded to every challenge in your life — this one perhaps not even ranking at the top of that list. And not only with grace and strength, but with an ability to adapt and grow professionally and personally through out. I know we all agree that those challenges can stop coming any time — you’re due for a stretch of smooth sailing.But to continue the metaphor, those inevitable choppy waters and high seas, you’ve got this!
I tried to leave a comment but it involved trying to recover my password and I lost the comment. I wasn’t going to answer your question, but instead was going to say that reflecting on the last year—and really ALL of the challenges you’ve faced in the last 5 years, of which this one might not even be at the top of that list—what I see is your strength and grace in the face of all of these challenges, and that through it all you’ve adapted and grown both personally and personally. And you’ve created for yourself a safe haven. You deserve a stretch of smooth sailing plus a grand baby to look forward to (he/she’s so lucky to have you as a Grammy), but should you inevitably encounter choppy water and high seas (to continue the metaphor), you’ve got this!