How many people are counting to the end of 2020?
The year just past is an interesting read if one were to place it in a book, which I suspect in due time many will. Living it however in “real” time is a different thing altogether. I mean think about it, a 14-day stay at home order in early spring, prolonged for nine-plus months as a vaccine is released at the conclusion of the year. Just wow on so many levels.
Yet as we put the paper to bed just days before Christmas and a week before welcoming the arrival of 2021, I can’t help but reflect on a few other things.
Namely and perhaps oddly to some, as I look toward the end of a most memorable year I can’t help but be grateful for a number of things.
Oh sure, this one has been a doozy. As I type this, my two school aged children are beginning Winter Break, which for the first time in my history as a parent doesn’t feel a bit different than life was for us last week. The challenges of the stay at home order of spring, turned Distance Learning for our children has made everything feel much different. Yet here we are and in keeping with the ideal of finding the good, I truly must say that I’ve felt fortunate to be right alongside them as they’ve navigated this never before journeyed path.
Distance Learning and COVID social distancing for our family was paired (oddly) with a cancer diagnosis for mom. An odd time and most uncertain to be walking the path of cancer patient, yet again I find myself grateful.
The truth of the matter for my cancer journey is while my cancer was found early, it happens to be aggressive. That’s a true good news, bad news kinda deal. The aggressive nature had my medical team placing every step as priority and not a beat has been missed to date. As my battle continues, I can’t help but (selfishly) feel a bit grateful for COVID as it made my journey look different than it would have one year ago.
Oh sure, spending time in the hospital with no family, friends or visitors was tough, but how lucky could a girl get to coincidentally have three Oakdale locals on shift as nurses during my stay. It’s also perhaps one of the most sterile times in the history of time as everyone is washing hands, sanitizing spaces and dare I remind, donning masks, like never before. A year ago, I’d have been a solo case in all of this, keeping myself safe from the unknowns of illness; today everyone is doing it.
Please don’t misunderstand, the challenges of COVID are also very real in my life and I’m not making light. As I type this, it’s days following making the decision to not spend Christmas with my parents, step siblings and their families. As the virus continues to spread and my immune system continues to fall I just can’t chance it. A fact and reality that still prompts tears and emotion each time I speak it. I have not seen my family (aside from my parents) since being diagnosed with cancer. I miss them and I know I’m not the only one with this void this Christmas season.
Yet we are each staying safe and the end goal at this time is more important. Keep Teresa healthy so she can continue and complete treatment. But man is that hard.
As a journalist and community member, I’ve also found myself inspired by many as they find creative ways to still touch lives during this Holiday season.
As we journey through this time of challenge as a family we’ve been abundantly blessed by a number of people. Selfless, random acts of kindness both unexpected as well as appreciated as we journey through our days.
Most recently this came by way of a sweet girl (also a cancer survivor) who took a disappointing moment in her teen life and created something positive and memorable for my two children. When plans fell through for a distancing ginger bread making party with some girlfriends, rather than sit in sadness she opted to spread some cheer.
The recipients, my two biggest gifts who unbeknownst to me received a text from the mom requesting a Starbucks order. Within moments and with no explanation treats were delivered for my duo to the front door.
Now I get for some, this may seem like no big deal, but during a time of isolation with two kids who desperately miss people coupled with watching their mom in a weak state they’ve never before seen – this meant everything.
So that’s my Christmas wish for the eyes that took the time to read this. We’ve all dealt with our fair share (and then some) of disappointment in the year of 2020 – welcome to life. Yet at the same time we are each so blessed in our own unique way, look at your blessings. Look to the faces of your family and friends and live in the gratitude that they are still with you, celebrate the small things you once took for granted. Once all is said and done and try not to lose your focus on the unknown.
In this wisdom of my son at the young age of 7, “Today is a gift, that’s why they call it “the present.”
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.