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What a difference a year makes

Novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 with text of the lost year 2020 on correction market background. concept of black swan event in World trade market and economy
Novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 with text of the lost year 2020 on correction market background. concept of black swan event in World trade market and economy

Last year on this day, I was planning a week’s worth of Lifestyle stories that, in retrospect, were rather incongruous given the extraordinary year that was coming up. Light and cheery, the stories were all about spring break, healthy eating and what to make for St. Patrick’s Day.

What a difference a year makes. From one day to the next the life we knew disappeared and, in its place, a bewildering, distressing new normal of food hoarding, long lineups and confusing direction from all levels of government. Covid-19 had been in the news for weeks but no one anticipated how devastating its ominous presence would become when everything was suddenly shut down. Last year at this time, many of us were scrambling for whatever we could grab from work to set up impromptu home offices. In one year, many lost their jobs, small business were shuttered, thousands of restaurants closed, weddings were cancelled, lifestyle industries decimated.

Who knew something as ordinary as meeting someone for coffee would become such a painful longing.

One has to ask – if we knew then what we know now, what would we have done anything differently? I suspect probably nothing. It’s not like we could run away to a different country. The whole world was going down the same rabbit hole.

Initially we were told these drastic measures were for two weeks only. But, since the pandemic hit, the goal posts have been continuously moving forward, much like Lucy moving the proverbial football away from Charlie Brown.

So – what’s happened in a year’s time? Necessity became the mother of invention when setting up home offices. Online shopping became the norm, and Zoom meetings the way of the future. When we did shop in person, we learned the art of patience as we lined up to get into stores. In the cold. One friend told me the lineups reminded her of the old Soviet Union.

In a year’s time, our new normal included living with the everyday fear of having this frightening virus attach itself to us when we least suspected it. Reaching for a door handle, or standing too close to someone. At the beginning, masks were actually an afterthought – we were all encouraged to wear disposable gloves instead. A few months after the pandemic hit the reverse happened and now, donning a mask is as common as putting on underwear.

In a year’s time we learned the roles doctors, nurses and frontline workers did for the safety and well-being of everyone. And they became our new heroes, as we banged pots and pans in the evenings to pay tribute. But – many didn’t want the accolades. They just wanted us to stay home and stop spreading the virus.

In a year’s time we grappled with a myriad of physical and emotional issues: Loneliness, depression, anger, fear. Guilt. Sadly, there’s a real tsunami of mental health issues coming our way, as there’s been an uptick in everything from family violence to drug abuse to kids being affected by not having a chance to be kids.

In a year’s time, we’ve become adept at throwing around  pandemic buzzwords – frontline workers; hand-washing; mask wearing; safe distancing; stay home. So has our medical knowledge as learning the names of all the vaccines: AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech all expertly rolling off our tongues like the scientists who invented them.

In a year’s time we’ve learned how quickly misinformation can cause crisis, or who knew toilet paper would become more dear than paper money? There was price gauging, and hoarding, causing a domino effect of supply and demand – the irony being there never were shortages. Meanwhile, shameless individuals took advantage by clearing the shelves and hoarding the goods in the hopes of selling them for triple the price. We suspect there are garages still full of hand sanitizers that will never get sold.

In a year’s time, staying home resulted in a new pastime: Baking. Bread, cakes (banana bread was the fave) again, starting a run on such staples as flour and yeast. Many baked out of a sense of loneliness, and grief for an uncertain future.

In a year’s time, thanks to all that baking and cooking, many are now grappling with Covid-19 weight gain. And with many gyms and pools still closed, there’s no real outlet to burn those calories, unless you count walking as the fitness craze of the year.

In a year’s time, we had no idea all our favourite entertainments would be cancelled – even the beloved Santa Claus parade was not immune.

And so, here we are, a year later, heading into the second year with this unwanted guest. In a year’s time we’ve known people who have had the virus, or have died from the virus. We saw first-hand the tragedy of mismanaged LTC homes.

In a year’s time we’ve started questioning the experts, and many are chafing at the restraints, anxious to get back to the way things were, to see loved ones they haven’t seen since last year. Newborns reaching their first birthdays have yet to meet their grandparents. Many miss the physical contact. They just want to hug someone they love and miss.

Maybe this year we’ll have a clearer picture of when this will all happen. In a year’s time, we’ve known the depth of despair, but there have been moments of joy, of lasting friendships in safe bubbles, and anticipation of a better year, a brighter, healthier future.

Maybe see the Santa Claus parade again.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021

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